What is Merkel cell cancer?
Merkel cell cancer is also known as neuroendocrine cancer of the skin, or trabecular cancer. Characterized by firm, shiny skin lumps, this rare cancer develops on or just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles. Merkel cell cancer most often is found on sun-exposed areas of skin, such as the neck and head. The cancer mostly affects Caucasian people over the age of 50. The cause of the cancer is unknown, but it is believed to be related to both sun exposure and suppression of the immune system.
What is the appearance of Merkel cell cancer tumors?
Merkel cell cancer tumors usually are firm, shiny skin lumps that do not hurt. The lumps, or tumors, may be red, pink, or blue and can range in size from smaller than a quarter inch to larger than two inches in diameter.
How is Merkel cell cancer diagnosed?
Early diagnosis and treatment of Merkel cell cancer is crucial in preventing the cancer from spreading. However, diagnosis of Merkel cell cancer is difficult, as it can look like many other types of cancer.
Treatment for Merkel cell cancer:
Specific treatment for Merkel cell cancer will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference