Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Chat live online
Select the Live Chat button at the bottom of the page
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
Referrals to patient-related programs or resources
Donations, website, or event-related assistance
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) usually starts on areas of skin exposed to the sun, especially the face, neck, arms, and legs, but it can occur anywhere on the body. It often first appears as a single pink, red, or purple shiny bump that usually doesn't hurt. Sometimes the skin on the top of the tumor breaks open and bleeds.
These tumors grow quickly. They might spread as new lumps in the nearby skin. They might also reach nearby lymph nodes (small collections of immune system cells throughout the body). Over time, the lymph nodes might grow large enough to be seen or felt as lumps under the skin (usually in the neck or under the arm).
It’s very important to have any new, growing, or changing lumps, bumps, or spots on your skin checked by a doctor as soon as possible so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed. The earlier any type of skin cancer is found, the easier it might be to treat.
Brady M, Spiker AM. Cancer, Skin, Merkel Cell. [Updated 2017 Dec 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan.
Cestaro G, Quarto G, DE Monti M, et al. New and emerging treatments for metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma. Panminerva Med. 2018;60(1):39-40.
Coggshall K, Tello TL, North JP, Yu SS. Merkel cell carcinoma: An update and review: Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and staging. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018;78(3):433-442.
Merkelcell.org. Seattle Multidisciplinary MCC Team, University of Washington MCC Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Skin Cancer. Symptoms & appearance of Merkel cell carcinoma. Accessed at www.merkelcell.org/about-mcc/symptoms-and-appearance-of-merkel-cell-carcinoma/ on August 8, 2018.
National Cancer Institute. Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version. May 2, 2018. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/skin/patient/merkel-cell-treatment-pdq on August 8, 2018.
Last Revised: October 9, 2018
American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.
Our lifesaving work is made possible thanks to generous supporters like you.
Donate now so we can continue to provide access to critical cancer information, resources, and support to improve lives of people with cancer and their families.