An Overview of Merkel Cell Cancer
Deciphering Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Also referred to as neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin, Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare skin cancer type that primarily initiates in sun-exposed skin areas like the face, neck, arms, and legs. Merkel cells are situated in the skin’s top layer, very close to the nerve endings that receive touch sensations.
Merkel Cell Cancer Risk Factors
Merkel cell cancer has various risk factors, including extensive exposure to natural or artificial sunlight over many years, age (it is more common in individuals over 50), a weakened immune system (for example, in people with HIV/AIDS or those taking immune-suppressing drugs post organ transplantation), and a history of other skin cancers.
Identifying Merkel Cell Cancer Symptoms
The primary indicator of Merkel cell cancer is a fast-growing, painless skin nodule that may be skin-colored or red, pink, or purple. It’s typically not painful.
Diagnosis of Merkel Cell Cancer
If you have a changing mole or skin growth, your doctor will carry out a physical examination and inquire about your health history. If Merkel cell cancer is suspected, tests such as skin biopsy or imaging tests like MRI scan, CT scan, or PET scan may be performed.
Treatment Methods for Merkel Cell Cancer
Treatment for Merkel cell cancer varies depending on the disease stage and your overall health. The options include surgery (with the aim of removing all of the cancer), radiation therapy (using high-energy beams to kill cancer cells), chemotherapy (using drugs to kill cancer cells), and immunotherapy (helping your immune system fight cancer).
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Preventing Merkel Cell Cancer
Although there’s no definitive way to prevent Merkel cell cancer, risk reduction is possible by practicing sun safety. This involves protecting your skin from the sun with sunscreen, seeking shade during peak sunlight hours, and wearing protective clothing. You can learn more about skin cancer on Wikipedia.
Merkel cell cancer is a severe skin cancer that necessitates immediate treatment. However, with early detection and the correct treatment, it can often be effectively managed. It’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly if you notice any skin changes.