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Merkel cell carcinoma

Other Names for this Disease
  • Carcinoma, merkel cell
  • Merkel cell cancer
  • Merkle tumors
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Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer that appears as a painless, hardened, red to purplish bump.  It occurs primarily in sun-exposed skin of the head and neck, though it can also occur on the skin of the arms, legs, and trunk.  It is considered fast-growing (aggressive), meaning that it can spread quickly to surrounding tissues, nearby lymph nodes, or more distant parts of the body.  Merkel cell carcinoma is diagnosed by biopsy, when some of the tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.  In 2007, approximately 1500 people in the United States were diagnosed with this type of cancer.  Treatment depends on the size of the cancer and the extent to which it has spread as determined by imaging studies.[1]
Last updated: 5/28/2011


  1. National Cancer Institute. General Information about Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment. 2011; Accessed 5/22/2011.
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Basic Information

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