The first sign of Merkel cell carcinoma is a fast-growing, painless red, blue or purple nodule on your skin, most commonly seen on the face, scalp or neck.
WHEN TO SEE A DERMATOLOGIST
If you notice a mole, freckle or bump that is changing in size, shape or color, growing rapidly, or bleeding easily after minor trauma, such as washing your skin or shaving, make an appointment with a dermatologist.
Factors that may increase risk of Merkel cell carcinoma include:
•Excessive exposure to sun or tanning beds.
•A weakened immune system including those with HIV infection, those taking drugs that suppress the immune response or those with chronic leukemia.
•History of other skin cancers such as basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma.
•Increasing age. is cancer is most common in people older than age 50, though it can occur at any age.
•Light skin color. Merkel cell carcinoma usually arises in people who have light-colored skin.
Even with treatment, Merkel cell carcinoma commonly spreads (metastasizes) beyond the skin. Merkel cell carcinoma tends to travel first to nearby lymph nodes. Later it may spread to your brain, bones, liver or lungs, where it can interfere with the functioning of these organs. Cancer that has metastasized is more difficult to treat and can be fatal.