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What is the prognosis for Merkel cell carcinoma patients?

Prognosis describes the likely course and outcome of a disease—that is, the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence. The prognosis for Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) patients depends greatly on the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis. If the tumor is small (less than 2 cm or about 3/4 inch) and cancer cells have not spread to the lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is about 80 percent (although some smaller and more recent studies put it at more than 90 percent). Patients with MCC that has spread to nearby lymph nodes have a 5-year survival rate of about 50 to 60 percent. Overall 5-year survival for patients diagnosed with MCC is around 60 percent, but median survival time for patients with MCC that has reached lymph nodes is 13 months. Recurrence of the disease depends largely on its stage; studies have found rates ranging from 27 to 91 percent. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. Statistics cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular patient because each person's situation is unique.

This answer is based on source informationfrom the National Cancer Institute.

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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.