What is Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer that originates in the Merkel cells located in the top layer of the skin. These cells are very close to the nerve endings that receive the sensation of touch. While Merkel cell carcinoma can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears on sun-exposed areas, such as the face, neck, and arms.
Merkel cell carcinoma often appears as a fast-growing, painless nodule on your skin that’s red or violet in colour. The nodule may appear innocuous initially, similar to a bug bite or a pimple, but typically grows rapidly over weeks to months.
Disease Aetiology (Causes)
While the exact cause of Merkel cell carcinoma is not fully understood, several factors can increase the risk of developing this disease. These include sun exposure, a weakened immune system, and having a history of other skin conditions or cancers. Merkel cell carcinoma has also been linked to the Merkel cell polyomavirus.
Diagnosing Merkel cell carcinoma usually involves:
- Clinical examination of the skin lesion
- Skin biopsy for microscopic examination
- Imaging tests like CT, PET or MRI scans to check if the cancer has spread
The treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma typically involves one or more of the following:
- Surgery to remove the tumour
- Radiation therapy, which may be used after surgery or as the main treatment for those who can’t undergo surgery
- Chemotherapy, typically reserved for advanced or recurrent cases
- Immunotherapy, a newer treatment option that has shown promise for advanced Merkel cell carcinoma
What Support can we Give for Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Merkel Cell Carcinoma is a rare cancer, meaning it is not as well-known as other forms of cancer. Without a Ribbon is an Australian organisation that provides support for individuals who suffer from rare cancers. So, we provide a designated platform for Warriors to obtain information specific to their Rare Cancer. We also provide annual opportunities for our Warriors to meet and learn from each other. If you suffer from rare cancer such as Merkel Cell Carcinoma, we can help and support you through your journey thanks to the generous donations we receive. Click the link below to sign up and become a Warrior today!
You can help us with your donation:
Without a Ribbon is a charity that works hard to aid those who suffer from rare cancers. You can help our cause in a variety of ways: