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Is Merkel cell carcinoma serious?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Merkel cell carcinoma is a relatively serious type of cancer because it's extremely aggressive. Once tumors start to form, they can spread in as little as a few weeks or months. If people are treated before the cancer reaches the lymph nodes, the outlook is good. The 5-year survival rate (meaning the percentage of people who, after treatment, are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed) for these cases is over 90 percent. However, once the cancer has started to spread, the outlook isn't as good, with a 5-year survival rate of around half. The disease also recurs in about half of all patients. Because Merkel cell carcinoma is so aggressive, it's important to talk to your doctor right away if you notice any symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.