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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Merkel cell carcinoma


Other Names for this Disease

  • Carcinoma, merkel cell
  • Cutaneous neuroendocrine carcinoma
  • Merkel cell cancer
  • Merkle tumors
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Cause

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What causes Merkel cell carcinoma?

The exact underlying cause of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is unknown, but several risk factors have been associated with the development of MCC. Having one or more risk factors does not mean that a person will develop MCC; most individuals with risk factors will not develop MCC. Risk factors include:[1][2]

    -being over 50 years of age
    -having fair skin
    -having a history of extensive sun exposure (natural or artificial)
    -having chronic immune suppression, such as after organ transplantation or having HIV

Researchers have also found that a virus called Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is frequently involved in the development of MCC.[1] MCPyV is found in about 80% of tumor cells tested. This virus is thought to alter the DNA in such a way that influences tumor development.[1][2]

Last updated: 10/6/2014

References
  1. Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Merkelcell.org. May 8, 2013; http://www.merkelcell.org/. Accessed 6/3/2013.
  2. Mathew Ludgate. Merkel cell carcinoma. DermNet NZ. May 22, 2013; http://www.dermnetnz.org/lesions/merkel.html. Accessed 6/4/2013.


Other Names for this Disease
  • Carcinoma, merkel cell
  • Cutaneous neuroendocrine carcinoma
  • Merkel cell cancer
  • Merkle tumors
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.