4 Signs of Merkel Cell Skin Cancer

 4 Signs of Merkel Cell Skin Cancer

When you think of skin cancer, you may envision an abnormal mole. But this isn't the only type of blemish that can indicate a problem — and melanoma isn't the only type of serious skin cancer.

Merkel cell carcinoma may not be well known, but it is aggressive. Fortunately, knowing the symptoms to watch out for can help you have the best possible outcome.

As a specialist in complex general surgical oncology, Dr. Trevan Fischer is an expert when it comes to the diagnosis and state-of-the-art treatment of a variety of cancers, including Merkel cell carcinoma

In addition to his private practice in Santa Monica, California, he works on clinical trials at the Saint John's Cancer Institute, which provides extensive knowledge and cutting-edge research and treatment options.

Merkel cell carcinoma

While skin cancer is the most common type, the good news is Merkel cell carcinoma is rare, with only about 2,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States. 

However, it grows quickly and spreads at an early stage, so recognizing its signs and knowing to seek a prompt diagnosis is key.


Merkel cells are located in the skin's top layer near the nerve endings that allow us to feel the sensation of touch. Cancer results when these cells grow out of control.

It often forms as a single lump on areas exposed to the sun, particularly the head, neck, arms, trunk, and legs. Its appearance can vary, so knowing the signs to look for is important.

Red or pink spot

Merkel cell carcinoma can appear similar to an insect bite and appear as a pink or red lump.

Raised "sore"

In some people, this cancer can be scaly, reddish in color, slightly raised, and look like a sore.

Bleeding spot

Another possible presentation is a spot that grows quickly or bleeds.

Dome-shaped mass

This cancer can also develop as a dome-shaped lump or look like a stye or cyst.

Risk factors

Merkel cell carcinoma can affect anyone, but certain risk factors are involved in its development. 

Spending significant time in the sun or tanning beds can increase your risk. People with a weaker immune system from a health condition or certain medications also have higher odds. Being older than the age of 50, male, or white can increase the risk as well as a history of another type of cancer.

Proactively examining your skin can catch skin cancer early. If you notice anything new or different, it's essential to get it evaluated by a medical professional. Click to book an appointment or call the office today at 310-807-2688 and find out how Dr. Fischer can help.

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