What Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive skin cancer that is at high risk of recurring and spreading (metastasizing) throughout the body, with most recurrences taking place within two years after diagnosis of the primary tumor. While the disease is 30 times rarer than melanoma (an estimated 0.24 cases per 100,000 persons in the U.S.), it kills about one in three patients compared with one in six for melanoma.
MCC most often arises on sun-exposed areas in fair-skinned individuals over age 50. Its name comes from the similarity of these cancer cells to normal Merkel cells in the skin that are thought to be associated with touch sensation. Normal Merkel cells were first described more than 100 years ago by Friedrich Sigmund Merkel.
Share Your Story
Want to spread the word about skin cancer awareness? Complete our Share Your Story form. Your story may end up on our website.
Q & A with Dr. Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD
Learn about recent landmark progress in the detection, monitoring and treatment of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare but dangerous skin cancer.