Skin Cancer Home > Merkel Cell Cancer

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of cancer that forms on or beneath the skin and hair follicles. It is characterized by firm, painless skin lumps or tumors that usually form on the head, neck, arms, and legs. The cancer grows rapidly and often metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body. Although it can affect people of all ages, Merkel cell cancer most often affects people who are over the age of 70.
The exact cause of this disease is unknown. However, certain people are more likely to develop it, including those who have:
  • Had an organ transplant and are taking immune system drugs
  • Been exposed to arsenic
  • Had significant exposure to sunlight.
(To learn more about this type of cancer, click Merkel Cell Carcinoma. This full-length article offers details on topics such as how it is diagnosed and what types of treatment are available.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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