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Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC)

A rare and very aggressive skin cancer that most often occurs on sun exposed areas such as the head, neck, arms, legs or trunk. Known causes of MCC include the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). Roughly 80% of MCC tumors are infected with the Merkel cell polyomavirus. People with a weakened immune system and/or extensive sun damage are at higher risk of developing MCC. The stage of MCC can vary at diagnosis and throughout treatment.

The stage at diagnosis is the best predictor if the cancer will return. Stages of MCC include 0, IA, IB, IIA, IIB, IIC, IIIA, IIIB, and IV. The effectiveness of the treatment may depend upon the stage at diagnosis. MCC usually involves multiple therapy types such as radiation, surgery, and systemic (intravenous and/or oral) medications.

Notice to user: The term chemotherapy, later shortened to “chemo”, originated in the early 1900s from Nobel Prize winning German physician and chemist, Dr. Paul Erlich. Dr. Erlich defined chemotherapy to mean “the use of chemicals as a therapy to treat disease.” (Source). Many years later, the term became synonymous with the use of chemicals to treat cancer specifically. Because early cancer therapies became quickly known for their severe side effect profile, the term chemotherapy took on a negative connotation. If we fast forward several decades, the anti-cancer therapies used today have become refined, and for many diseases, treatment can be safely taken in the comfort of your own home.

As chemotherapy has become particularly targeted, certain side effects have lessened, while new side effects have emerged. However, the premise behind therapy, that is using a chemical to kill cancer, has not changed. Therefore, the clinicians who created ChemoExperts.com believe the term “chemotherapy” still very much applies to all anti-cancer medications, but importantly, can no longer suggest what, if any, side effects a patient is likely to experience. For this to become clear, education regarding each individual drug, as well as information derived from the use of combination therapy (multiple chemo medications) is required. As a result, we have structured our website to make it easier for users to learn about cancer treatment and hope that if you are taking or receiving chemotherapy, that ChemoExperts.com is able to provide you with the tools needed to make the journey a little easier and life more rewarding.

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Created: July 15, 2017 Updated: September 18, 2017


PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version. 2017 Jun 16. In: PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US).