Merkel cell cancer

Overview

Type of disease: Rare conditions

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare type of skin cancer that usually appears as a single, painless, lump on sun-exposed skin. It is typically red or violet in color. It is considered fast-growing and can spread quickly to surrounding tissues, nearby lymph nodes, or more distant parts of the body. Merkel cell polyomavirus has been detected in about 80% of the tumors tested. It is thought that this virus can cause somatic mutations leading to MCC when the immune system is weakened. Other risk factors for developing MCC include ultraviolet radiation and being over 50 years of age. Treatment should begin early and depends on the location and size of the cancer, and the extent to which it has spread. Source: Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), supported by ORDR-NCATS and NHGRI.

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