Merkel's Cell Carcinoma

John Han-Chih Chang, MD and Kenneth Blank, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
Please send me information on "Merkel's Cell Carcinoma." A friend of mine has been diagnosed with that illness and I'd like to find out about it.

Kenneth R. Blank, MD, OncoLink Editorial Assistant, replies:

Thank you for your question.

Merkel's cell cancer is a neuroendocrine tumor of the skin. Merkel's cell tumors usually present as firm and painless skin lumps and generally are found on the sun-exposed areas of the face or scalp but can occur anywhere on the body.

Merkel's cell cancer grows rapidly and often has already spread before detection. Merkel's cell cancer most commonly spreads to the local lymph nodes as well as the liver, bone, lungs, and brain. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy have all been used in the treatment of merkel's cell cancer.

Kenneth R. Blank, MD

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