What Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Also known as primary neuroendocrine carcinoma, merkel cell carcinoma is an uncommon and a highly aggressive form of skin cancer. Generally, it is caused by the merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). This accounts for 80% of merkel cell carcinomas.
On the other hand, MCV-uninfected tumors account for 20% of the merkel cell carcinomas and don’t have a known cause.
The survival rate is highly dependent on the extent of metastasis that has occurred. Tumors which have not metastasized to regional lymph nodes have a 5 year survival rate, which drops once the lesion has metastasized regionally.
Most often, it affects sun exposed face, head and neck. Merkel cell carcinoma tends to grow at a fast rate and spreads quickly to other parts of body. Treatment options for Merkel cell carcinoma often depend on whether the cancer has spread beyond the skin.
Causes Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma:
Most cases of merkel cell carcinoma are caused by a newly discovered virus called Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). The virus lives on the skin and doesn’t exhibit any signs and symptoms.
The virus is clonally integrated into the cancerous Merkel cells. In addition, it has a particular mutation only when found in cancer cells, but not when it is detected in healthy skin cells. . It is currently unknown what co-factors are required for MCC-type cancers to develop. MCV-uninfected tumors appears to have a separate and as-yet unknown cause.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which is found in natural sunlight and in the artificial light generated by tanning beds, probably contributes to MCC development in a high percentage of cases.
Risk Factors Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma:
- A weakened immune system.
Drugs that suppress the immune response
Those suffering from chronic leukemias
- History of other skin cancers. .
- Older age.
Those older than 50 are more likely to develop merkel cell carcinoma
- Light skin color.
Symptoms Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma:
Merkel cell carcinoma exhibits the following symptoms:
- Occurrence of a firm, painless, nodule or mass on skin
- The mass is flesh colored, red, or blue
- Mass varies from 0.5 cm to more than 5 cm
- Mass appears on head and neck
Diagnosis Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma:
Merkel cell carcinoma is diagnosed via:
- Physical exam.
- Removing a sample of suspicious skin.
Further tests may be done in order to determine the stage of the cancer.
- Sentinel node biopsy
- Imaging tests
Treatment Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma:
The following treatment options are available:
- Radiation therapy
By : Natural Health News