Learn About Merkel Cell Carcinoma

What is the definition of Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive skin cancer. It usually develops as a single, painless, bump on sun-exposed skin. The bump may be skin-colored or red-violet, and tends to grow rapidly over weeks to months. It may spread quickly to surrounding tissues, nearby lymph nodes, or more distant parts of the body. Factors associated with developing MCC include increasing age, fair skin, a history of extensive sun exposure, chronic immune suppression, and the Merkel cell polyomavirus. This virus has been detected in about 80% of people with MCC. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Treatment options and prognosis depend on the location(s) and size of the cancer, whether it has just been diagnosed or has come back (recurred), and how deeply it has grown into the skin.
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What are the alternative names for Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
  • Merkel cell cancer
  • Merkle tumors
  • Carcinoma, merkel cell
  • Cutaneous neuroendocrine carcinoma
What are the causes of Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Cancer is caused by changes (mutations) in the DNA inside of cells. These mutations cause the cells to grow and divide into new cells, when they should not. The mutations that cause MCC are not inherited from a parent, but occur by chance during a person's lifetime (they are acquired, or somatic mutations). In many cases, it is not known what directly causes these mutations to occur. However, several factors are thought to increase the risk for mutations to occur - such as exposure to sunlight. Merkel cell polyomavirus is frequently involved in the development of MCC and is present in about 80% of MCC tumors tested. While the majority of people have been exposed to this virus by adulthood, it appears that the virus does not cause any symptoms except in the very rare situations in which it leads to MCC. Other risk factors that have been associated with MCC include:
  • being older than age 50
  • having fair skin
  • having a history of extensive sun exposure
  • having chronic immune suppression (e.g. organ transplantation or HIV)

Having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will develop MCC. Most people with risk factors will not develop MCC.

Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma an inherited disorder?
MCC does not seem to run in families. While DNA changes (mutations) found in the cells of MCC tumors can lead to MCC, these types of mutations are not inherited from a person's parents. They are referred to as somatic mutations and occur during a person's lifetime, often as random events.
Who are the top Merkel Cell Carcinoma Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
44
conditions
Oncology

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

New York, NY 

Sandra Dangelo is an Oncologist in New York, New York. Dr. Dangelo has been practicing medicine for over 18 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Merkel Cell Carcinoma. She is also highly rated in 44 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Merkel Cell Carcinoma, Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma, Synovial Sarcoma, and Liposarcoma. She is board certified in Medical Oncology and licensed to treat patients in New York. Dr. Dangelo is currently accepting new patients.

Elite
Highly rated in
11
conditions
General Surgery

Moffitt Cancer Center, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center At McKinley Campus

Tampa, FL 

Vernon Sondak is a General Surgeon in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Sondak has been practicing medicine for over 42 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Merkel Cell Carcinoma. He is also highly rated in 11 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Melanoma, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Skin Carcinoma, and Neuroendocrine Tumor. He is board certified in General Surgery and licensed to treat patients in Florida. Dr. Sondak is currently accepting new patients.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
13
conditions
Hematology Oncology
Oncology

Baptist Hospital

Miami, FL 

Guilherme Rabinowits is a Hematologist Oncology specialist and an Oncologist in Miami, Florida. Dr. Rabinowits has been practicing medicine for over 22 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Merkel Cell Carcinoma. He is also highly rated in 13 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Merkel Cell Carcinoma, Tongue Cancer, Squamous Cell Skin Carcinoma, and Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma. He is board certified in Hematology/oncology and licensed to treat patients in Florida. Dr. Rabinowits is currently accepting new patients.

What are the latest Merkel Cell Carcinoma Clinical Trials?
A Phase 1/2 Study Exploring the Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy of INCAGN01876 in Combination With Immune Therapies in Subjects With Advanced or Metastatic Malignancies
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An Open-label, Single-Center, Phase 1b/2 Study to Evaluate the Safety of Plinabulin in Combination With Radiation/Immunotherapy in Patients With Select Advanced Malignancies After Progression on PD-1 or PD-L1 Targeted Antibodies
What are the Latest Advances for Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Competing risks analysis of Merkel cell carcinoma with concurrent chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Decreased IgG Antibody Response to Viral Protein Mimotopes of Oncogenic Merkel Cell Polyomavirus in Sera From Healthy Elderly Subjects.
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Single Fraction Radiotherapy as Postoperative Treatment (SF-PORT) for Resected, Stage I/II Merkel Cell Carcinoma.