Merkel cell carcinoma
Other Names for this Disease
- Carcinoma, merkel cell
- Merkel cell cancer
- Merkle tumors
Your QuestionCan you catch this cancer from a husband that you are close to and kiss every day?
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Questions on this page
-being over 65 years of age
-having fair skin
-having a history of extensive sun exposure
-having chronic immune suppression, such as after organ transplantation or having HIV. However, most people who develop MCC are not immune suppressed.
In 2008, researchers discovered that a specific virus called Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is frequently involved in MCC. MCPyV has been detected in about 80% of tumors tested and associates with the DNA of tumor cells in a way suggestive of being involved in tumor development. It is thought that the virus causes gene mutations that lead to MCC when immune function is defective. Several additional studies have validated these findings.
Merkel cell polyomavirus, which has been found to be present in 80% of MCC tumors, is considered to be an organism that normally inhabits the human body; asymptomatic infection with the virus is common. It is typically acquired in early childhood. MCC is a rare cancer, and the overwhelming majority of individuals who are infected with the virus will never develop MCC. The virus itself is transmissible (although the mode of transmission is not well understood), but MCC cannot be passed from one individual to another.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Merkelcell.org. May 8, 2013; http://www.merkelcell.org/. Accessed 6/3/2013.
- Mathew Ludgate. Merkel cell carcinoma. DermNet NZ. May 22, 2013; http://www.dermnetnz.org/lesions/merkel.html. Accessed 6/4/2013.
- James S. Welsh. Oncologist. January 2011; 16(1):1-4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228048/. Accessed 6/3/2013.
- Amber K, McLeod MP, Nouri K. The Merkel cell polyomavirus and its involvement in Merkel cell carcinoma. Dermatol Surg. February 2013; 39(2):232-238.