Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer. It begins in the Merkel cells found at the base of the outermost layer of your skin (epidermis). Merkel cells are connected to the nerve endings in the skin that are responsible for the sense of touch.
The exact cause of Merkel cell carcinoma is unclear, though long-term sun exposure or a weak immune system may increase your risk of developing Merkel cell carcinoma. For these reasons, Merkel cell carcinoma is often found in older people.
Most Merkel cell carcinomas appear on the face, head or neck, but they can develop anywhere on your body, even on areas not exposed to sunlight. This type of cancer can grow and spread to other parts of the body very quickly. Early detection is critical to successful treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma.
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