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designated cancer center

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Expertise

Merkel cell carcinoma, also called neuroendocrine cancer of the skin, is a rare skin cancer, although incidence is rising in the US. Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is usually found on the sun-exposed areas of the head, neck, arms, and legs of older, fair-complexioned individuals but can occur in people of other races and ages.

Merkel cell carcinoma grows rapidly and often metastasizes to other parts of the body. When the disease spreads, it tends to involve the regional (nearby) lymph nodes and may also spread to the liver, bone, lungs, and brain. For this reason, the Stanford Merkel Cell Carcinoma Program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of MCC, utilizing the expertise of Stanford surgeons for wide local excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) staging.

Merkel cell carcinoma is very sensitive to radiation therapy, and thus, most patients will benefit from adjuvant radiation to the primary tumor site following resection, as well as to the regional lymph node basin in the event that the SLNB is positive for metastasis. Merkel cell carcinoma treatment depends on the stage of the disease.

The multidisciplinary Merkel Cell Carcinoma Program at Stanford provides a comprehensive treatment approach for patients with MCC and is investigating novel targeted-and immuno-therapies to treat patients with advanced disease.

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