Merkel Cell Carcinoma – Pictures, Prognosis, Survival Rate, Treatment

What is Merkel cell carcinoma?

One of the most depressing diseases that a person can have is cancer. Cancer has no known treatment. Until now it is still continued to study to discover the new trends in the treatment regimen. The person affected either accepts it whole heartedly or worst, regret and suffer it his entire life.

There are varieties of cancer types. For now we will discuss merkell cell carcinoma. This is a rare type of cancer. Let’s begin..

Merkell Cell Carcinoma is also known as neuroendocrine carcinoma or primary skin cell carcinoma, a high form of a rare skin cancer. It is caused by the virus merkell cell polyomavirus and usually develops in the skin. This is usually painless and begins as single nodules. This is also a hormonal formation cell and uncontrollably grows beneath in the skin. Its appearance is either bluish or flesh colored nodule and usually grows in the neck, head, arms, legs and face that is always exposed in the sun’s rays. Weaker immune system increases the risk of developing this kind of cancer. It grows rapidly and easily spreads in the body. The option for treatment depends upon the stage of the cancer cell.

This disease has a pattern. The pattern depicts that the infection was present before it develops cancerous. The nerve endings connected to the tissue is also affected and the sense of touch is being paralyzed.

Signs and Symptoms

Painless nodule around the skin (may appear flesh, blue, purple or red-can be seen on areas not expose to sunlight)

Infiltrates locally in the underlying subcutaneous fat, fascia and muscle and spread in the blood vessel going to the lungs, liver, bone and brain

Risk Factors & Causes

The cancer grows rapidly. There are several risk factors that can lead in the acquisition of this disease. These are:

  • Males are more prone to this disease
  • History of previous cancer
  • Over age of 70 years old
  • Caucasians are highly affected
  • Compromised immune system
  • Light colored skin is more prone to develop this disease
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays


  • Stage 0- in primary situ
  • Stage 1A- less than or equal to 2cm tumor maximum dimension
  • Stage 1B- less than or equal to 2cm tumor maximum dimension (nodes are negative by clinical examination)
  • Stage 2A- tumor dimension is greater than 2cm (nodes are negative by pathologic exam)
  • Stage 2B- tumor dimension is greater than 2cm (nodes are negative by clinical exam)
  • Stage 2C- primary tumor now invades muscles, fascia, bone or cartilage
  • Stage 3A- invading tumor of any size (micrometastasis)
  • Stage 3B- invading tumor of any size (macrometastasis)

Tests, Treatment and Medications

Before diagnosing this condition, the affected person should confirm it with a second opinion to make sure the diagnosis is right. The treatment plan is started after the confirmation of the diagnosis. Physical examination is also done to look and feel for the nodules or lumps. Biopsy is also recommended to test for this carcinoma. Other treatment option includes:

-Surgery is performed to remove the lumps or nodules

-Chemotherapy is done most especially when the metastatic carcinoma has infected the underlying tissues

-Radiation is also done to target the metastatic nodules

-Biopsy is done to detect if the nodule is benign or malignant (sentinel node biopsy)

-CT scan, PET scan and X-ray is recommended to view if the carcinoma has already spread to the entire body

Prognosis & Survival Rate

The prognosis depended on the age and the severity of the carcinoma in the affected person. Survival rate of this is depends if it is benign or malignant cases. If benign, the survival rate can be higher if the treatment is done immediately. If malignant cases, it needs to assess whether the cancer cells has already metastasize deep down the underlying tissues in the body.  In the research studies they found this type of cancer to mutate when detected. It also shows the inhibition of production of MVC proteins causing the MVC-infected merkell cell carcinoma cells to die but no effect on malignant ones. About 20% of this carcinoma is still having no known cause. However, there is a 5-year and 80% survival rate of chances of living when detected early.


There are ways to prevent from acquiring this condition. These simple tips can help you a lot.

  • When you are going to expose your skin  to the strongest heat of the sun, do not forget to apply sunscreen having SPF 35 and above
  • Do not expose skin when the sun is at its highest sunlight
  • Bring umbrella and skin protection before exposing to the sunlight
  • Note for any changes in size, shape and color of the nodule and immediately contact your health care provider.


When this carcinoma spreads to the body, it metastasizes deep down to the bones and underlying tissues. It goes first to the lymph nodes and travels to adjacent tissues. If the carcinoma metastasize deeply, it is now harder to treat and can lead to death.

Pictures of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Skin Anatomy Showing Merkel Cell

Image 1 – Skin Anatomy that Shows Merkel Cells

Merkel Cell Cancer - Early Satge

Image 2 – Early Stage of Merkel Cell Cancer

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Picture

Source –

Merkel Cell Cancer Advanced Stage

Image 4 – Advanced Stage of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

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