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Merkel Cell

A rare disease, Merkel cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that forms on or beneath the skin and hair follicles. This type of cancer, which is also known as neuroendocrine cancer of the skin and trabecular cancer, can affect people of all ages, but will generally affect people age 70 and over.
Although the causes of Merkel cell carcinoma are unknown, certain people are more likely to develop it, including those who:
  • Have had an organ transplant and are taking immune system drugs
  • Have been exposed to arsenic
  • Have had significant exposure to sunlight.
Merkel cell carcinoma 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 the disease usually spreads to regional lymph nodes, it may also spread to the liver, bones, lungs, and brain. The cancer is extremely difficult to cure once it spreads.
(Click Merkel Cell Carcinoma for more detailed information on who this disease affects, how it can be treated, and potential risk factors related to it.)
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Merkel Cell Carcinoma Information

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