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Everything You Need to Know About Merkel Cell Carcinoma
When talking about cancer, we always deal with how horrendous it is and what it can do to people and families. While it is true that cancer is a devastating illness, ignoring what it is will not do us any good. Instead, we should strive to know everything we can about it so that we know how to deal with it better.
And in speaking about cancer and knowledge, we should take a look beyond the more common cancer types. In an effort to do that, we shall take a look at Merkel cell cancer, one of the rarest types of skin cancer out there. This article will tell you what it is and what you can do if you find yourself afflicted by it.
What Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Merkel skin cancer is one of the rarest skin cancer types, but it is one of the most dangerous – the other most dangerous being melanoma. Unlike other kinds of skin cancer, like basal skin cancer and squamous cell cancer, MCC spreads to other parts of the body much more readily. And once they do spread to other body parts, it becomes a lot harder to treat.
Skin cancer usually germinates on the parts of the body that directly experience sunlight. The face and arms are prime targets. However, Merkel cell carcinoma does not follow that trend. Instead, it can pop up anywhere on the body.
Merkel cell tumors are firm bumps and range from pink, red, and purple in coloration. In general, they do not cause pain of any sort, but they can lead to ulcers and sores if left unattended. Though these bumps are mostly visible on the skin of the afflicted, a very small portion of them can manifest in other parts of the body, like inside the esophagus or up a nostril. They can be very hard to spot, and treatment gets delayed.
What Are the Treatments for Merkel Cell Skin Cancer?
There are a few Merkel cell treatments that you can try if you find yourself afflicted by it. In this section of the article, we will take a look at a few treatments available and help you find the kind of treatment you want for yourself.
You cannot escape surgery when you have MCC. Your relationship with surgery begins as early as determining whether you actually have MCC and realizing how much it has spread. Once that has been determined, the tumors can be surgically removed.
A special kind of surgery called Mohs Micrographic surgery can be performed when you need to remove a tumor while preserving as much good skin as possible. This is usually done when the tumors are around sensitive parts of the body like the eye and the nose.
The third kind of surgery is also an option, and it is called lymph node dissection. MCC, being cancer, spreads to nearby lymph nodes. Using this surgery, the surgeon removes lymph nodes, whether afflicted or not, around the tumor in an effort to reduce the risk of spread in the future.
Radiation therapy involves firing high-powered rays or particles into the body from a machine. While not always used in the case of MCC, radiation therapy is nonetheless very effective at treating it.
Radiation therapy can be used in the following scenarios:
- If you had surgery to get the tumor removed, the doctors might follow it up with radiation therapy to kill the cancer cells that remain. This is especially true in case the tumor was very large.
- Radiation therapy is used as the go-to form of treatment when the patient is deemed not ready to undertake surgery, whether it is because they are not healthy or strong enough, or whether the tumor is in such a place where all of it cannot be surgically removed.
- After a lymph node dissection, the lymph nodes are blasted with radiation therapy to cleanse the area of lingering cancer cells. Radiation therapy is also given to lymph nodes in case a biopsy was not done.
- If the MCC has spread to other parts of your body, radiation therapy can be used to stop the further spread and ease the symptoms caused by the spread, but it will not cure it.
Get Support From All American Hospice
Merkel cell carcinoma is a strange case but no less dangerous despite its oddities. Like all forms of cancer, it should be taken seriously – perhaps a bit more than most – and treatment should be pursued at the earliest.
Remember, you are the master of your body, and if you notice anything strange that you cannot explain, you should book an appointment with a professional immediately and get yourself checked out. Your safety is what matters most, and this is not something you should take risks with. For a consultation on expert caregiving for Merkel cell carcinoma cases, set up a consultation with All American Hospice today.