Learn our about philanthropic initiative Shade The Kids

(480) 666-5568

Understanding Merkel Cell Carcinoma: A Guide for Phoenix and Scottsdale Residents

Posted on: September 11th, 2023 by Our Team

Recent headlines about the passing of the iconic musician Jimmy Buffett have sparked conversations about a rare but noteworthy skin cancer called Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC). While we mourn the loss of a musical legend, we also want to take this opportunity to shed light on MCC, its potential risks, symptoms, and how Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group can assist residents of Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ, in understanding and addressing this condition. In this blog post, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of Merkel Cell Carcinoma tailored to our local community.

What is Merkel Cell Carcinoma?

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is an uncommon yet aggressive type of skin cancer primarily affecting Merkel cells, responsible for the sense of touch. This malignancy often manifests on sun-exposed areas like the head, neck, and arms but can occur anywhere on the body. Despite its rarity, MCC is notorious for its rapid spread to other parts of the body, underscoring the importance of early detection and treatment.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

  1. Painless Skin Growth: MCC typically appears as a painless, firm, shiny skin bump or nodule, often displaying red, blue, or purple hues. Unfortunately, it can resemble harmless cysts or pimples.
  2. Rapid Growth: One of the hallmarks of MCC is its swift progression. Lesions can double in size within weeks or even days.
  3. Ulceration: In some cases, the skin bump may ulcerate, forming an open sore or wound that refuses to heal.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Risk Factors

  1. Sun Exposure: Extensive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds elevates the risk of MCC, particularly in individuals with fair skin.
  2. Age: MCC predominantly affects older adults, with most cases occurring in individuals over 50.
  3. Weakened Immune System: Conditions like HIV/AIDS or organ transplants that compromise the immune system increase the vulnerability to MCC.
  4. Prior Skin Cancer History: A previous history of skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma can also heighten the risk of MCC.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Prevention

  1. Sun Protection: Shield your skin from harmful UV radiation by applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, wearing protective clothing, and donning wide-brimmed hats. Avoid indoor tanning.
  2. Regular Skin Checks: Perform routine self-examinations of your skin and promptly consult a dermatologist if you notice any unusual or swiftly changing skin lesions.
  3. Early Medical Evaluation: If you suspect the presence of MCC or observe concerning changes in your skin, seek medical evaluation promptly. Timely diagnosis and intervention can significantly enhance outcomes.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment

MCC treatment options hinge on the cancer’s stage and location. They may encompass surgical removal of the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. At Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, our dedicated healthcare providers collaborate with Phoenix and Scottsdale residents to formulate individualized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.


Merkel Cell Carcinoma, though rare, requires vigilant awareness, especially for our community in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ. As we commemorate the life of Jimmy Buffett, let us also prioritize our skin health. Protect yourself from UV radiation, engage in regular skin assessments, and promptly consult our expert team at Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group if you have any concerns regarding your skin. Early detection and treatment are pivotal in improving Merkel Cell Carcinoma outcomes, and we are here to support you every step of the way.


End of content dots