Merkel Cell – a very rare skin cancer.
What are the clinical features?
MCC usually presents as a rapidly growing red, blue, or purple nodule on the skin. The growths are raised, do not feel painful, and do not cause discomfort when touched.
UV-exposed areas like the face, head, and neck are common sites for them to appear, but they can develop anywhere on the body, even without exposure to sunlight!
Often seen as lumps that appear suddenly on the skin, MCC’s can be confused with pimples or sores.
Gallery of Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Please click on the images for details.
Skin cancer doctors and dermatologists rarely encounter Merkel cell carcinomas. However, MCC should be considered as a possibility in elderly individuals or immunocompromised patients with a rapidly growing nodule on their head or neck. A biopsy of the skin usually reveals the diagnosis.
Treatment for MCC requires the involvement of a range of specialists, such as a surgeon and oncologist. In most cases, surgery and radiotherapy will be required however, radiotherapy may be sufficient on its own if surgery isn’t indicated.
The bottom line
- MCC is a rare but aggressive type of skin cancer that occurs primarily in the elderly.
- The patient will require hospital-based treatment.
- Pathologists examine a skin lesion that they have removed to determine the diagnosis.
Pathologists make the diagnosis based on immunoperoxidase stains used in skin biopsies. ‘Merkel cells’, which are blue in colour, will confirm the diagnosis.