Merkel cell carcinoma
Other Names for this Disease
- Carcinoma, merkel cell
- Merkel cell cancer
- Merkle tumors
What causes Merkel cell carcinoma?
-being over 65 years of age
-having fair skin
-having a history of extensive sun exposure
-having chronic immune suppression, such as after organ transplantation or having HIV. However, most people who develop MCC are not immune suppressed.
In 2008, researchers discovered that a specific virus called Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is frequently involved in MCC. MCPyV has been detected in about 80% of tumors tested and associates with the DNA of tumor cells in a way suggestive of being involved in tumor development. It is thought that the virus causes gene mutations that lead to MCC when immune function is defective. Several additional studies have validated these findings.
- National Cancer Institute. General Information about Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment. 2011; http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/merkelcell/healthprofessional. Accessed 5/22/2011.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Merkelcell.org. May 8, 2013; http://www.merkelcell.org/. Accessed 6/3/2013.
- Mathew Ludgate. Merkel cell carcinoma. DermNet NZ. May 22, 2013; http://www.dermnetnz.org/lesions/merkel.html. Accessed 6/4/2013.