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 age 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.
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 tend to grow very quickly.
Early diagnosis and treatment of Merkel cell cancer is crucial in preventing the cancer from spreading. The diagnosis is made with a biopsy, a procedure in which tumor samples are removed (with a needle or scalpel, or during surgery) for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present. However, diagnosis of Merkel cell cancer is difficult, as it can look like many other types of cancer.
Specific treatment for Merkel cell cancer will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
Click here to view the
Online Resources of Skin Cancer