What is Merkel cell carcinoma?
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer that begins in the Merkel cells. Found at the base of the outermost layer of skin, Merkel cells are connected to the nerve endings in the skin that are responsible for the sense of touch. The lymph nodes, brain, bones, liver, and lungs can be affected by Merkel cell carcinoma if it is not diagnosed and treated early.
What areas of the body are most affected by Merkel cell carcinoma?
Merkel cell carcinoma most often appears on the face, head, and neck, but it can develop anywhere on the body.
What does Merkel cell carcinoma look like?
Merkel cell carcinoma appears as a flesh colored or bluish red nodules.
Why are skin cancer screenings important?
Skin cancer screenings are the first line of defense against skin cancer. What may look like an insignificant sore or lump, may actually be a sign of skin cancer. The earlier Merkel cell carcinoma is diagnosed and treated, the better, especially because it is common for this type of cancer to spread to other parts of the body. The lymph nodes, brain, bones, liver, and lungs can be affected by Merkel cell carcinoma if it is not detected in time.
What happens during a skin cancer screening?
Patients who receive a skin cancer screening at LA Laser and Skin Center can expect a quick and painless 10-15 minute exam. A skincancer specialist will check the entire body for abnormal growths, paying close attention to size, color, border, and shape. If anything looks suspicious, a biospy will be ordered.
Does Merkel cell carcinoma require any special testing? What is a sentinel node biopsy?
If the doctor suspects Merkel cell carcinoma has spread to the lymph nodes, a specialized test called a sentinel node biopsy may be recommended. During this procedure, a dye is injected into the lymphatic system. The dye then flows through the lymph nodes and bonds to cancerous cells like a highlighter if cancer is present. The ares affected by the die are removed and analyzed in order to determine the best course of treatment.
What treatments are available at LA Laser and Skin Center for Merkel cell carcinoma?
SURGICAL EXCISION A scalpel is used to completely cut the lesion and surrounding margin of healthy skin. Stitches are used to close the surgical opening.
MOHS MICROGRAPHIC SURGERY Mohs microgrophic surgery is a cutting edge skin cancer treatment performed by only the most highly skilled surgeons. The procedure starts with the removal of a small area of skin cancer, which is immediately tested under a microscope onsite to determine the location of the cancer cells in the sample. Patients remain in the operating room during the testing. Once analysis pinpoints the direction of the cancer's growth, another small layer of skin is removed and examined. This process continues layer by layer until all skin cancer cells have been removed. Click here to learn more about Moh's microscopic surgery.