Merkel cell carcinoma is an aggressive neuroendocrine cancer of the skin that begins in specialized skin cells located near the nerve cells responsible for touch.

About Merkel Cell Carcinoma 

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of neuroendocrine cancer, which is a type of cancer that develops when the nervous system signals certain cells to release hormones into the blood.

Tumors form in Merkel cells, which are located in the top layer of the skin near nerve endings  that receive touch sensations. Merkel cell carcinoma occurs most in areas of skin exposed to sun.

About 1,500 cases of Merkel cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year. It grows quickly, and it tends to spread to the lymph nodes and into other areas of the body such as the lungs, bones or other organs.

Merkel cell carcinoma tends to be more aggressive and harder to treat than other types.

There is no such thing as a routine skin cancer. Every patient’s disease is different, with different, individually unique genes and molecules driving that specific cancer.

At the OSUCCC – James, our Merkel cell carcinoma sub-specialists are world-renowned cancer experts who focus solely on these tumors and who reach across medical disciplines (medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, dermatologists, head and neck specialists, pharmacists, nurse sub-specialists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

In fact, our unique Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Clinic offers all newly diagnosed patients an on-site, thorough evaluation and treatment-options review with experts from radiation oncology, surgical oncology, medical oncology, neuro oncology and dermatology – all on the same day – so that together, the patient and the experts can decide on the best personalized treatment options.

Additionally, patients have access to advanced treatment procedures performed only at the OSUCCC – James by internationally recognized experts in Merkel cell carcinoma.

And by offering access to the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are often available for their treatment and care.

Melanoma Epidermal Anatomy

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Merkel Cell carcinoma symptoms usually appears on sun-exposed skin as a single lump that is:

  • Fast-growing
  • Painless
  • Firm and dome-shaped or raised
  • Red or violet in color

Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have Merkel cell carcinoma. But if you have symptoms you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms have continued for longer than a few weeks.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

If you’ve been diagnosed with Merkel cell carcinoma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a skin cancer specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 W. 10th Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43210


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