Symptoms of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be more than 1,000,000 new cases of skin cancer and less than 1,000 associated deaths from skin cancer in the United States in 2010. However,symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma belong to a rare and highly aggressive type of skin cancer. Roughly 1200 new cases are diagnosed every year of this cancer. It affects the skin cells under the upper layer of skin and roots of hairs. This article tries to gain further insight on the signs of this dreadful disease.

Symptoms of Merkel Cell Carcinoma:

  • Growth of painless lumps in the skin
  • Change of skin locally
  • Mole change their appearance
  • There are abnormal skin growths similar to signs of other skin cancer types
  • Lymph nodes of groin, axillae and neck being affected
  • Solitary red nodules

Facts and Statistics on Merkel Cell Carcinoma:

  • Caucasians belonging to the age group of 60 and 80 years of age are at high risks of developing this disease.
  • Males are twice at risk of getting this cancer than females.
  • 80 percent of this skin cancer type is believed to be caused by a newly discovered virus known as Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV).
  • Rest of 20 percent cases are not related to this virus infection but sun’s exposure can be a vital factor in development of this cancer.
  • Once the signs of the disease being in the advanced stages is apparent (like lymph nodes being affected), the five year survival rate of the patient reduces to half.
  • If the lymph nodes do not know signs of being affected, the five year survival rate can be more than 80 percent.
  • 50 percent of patients suffer from recurrence of this cancer.
  • 50 percent signs of this cancer appear in the sun-exposed areas of the body like head and neck, in one-thirds of cases they begin in legs and in 15 percent cases they appear in arms.
  • Though there are other possible sites where the disease can originate, it spreads rapidly to fresh locations (or technically called metastasises) like bones, brains, lungs and liver.
  • Risk of developing this cancer is high among patients whose immune system is suppressed owing to organ transplantation, age or AIDS disease.
  • A latest research study has found that AIDS patients and people with organ transplantation are 13.4 times at risk of developing this disease.
  • Symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma are mistaken for other cancer types like malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma or small cell carcinoma.

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