Cancer Network | CALL 877-715-HOPE

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of cancer affecting the cells that make up the skin’s top layers, and it therefore generally affects the areas of skin exposed to the sun, including the limbs, head, and neck. 

Risk Factors

  • Heavy exposure to sunlight and artificial light, including tanning beds
  • Diseases that affect the immune system, such as HIV
  • Medication that suppresses the immune system


The symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma may be similar to the symptoms for other problems. Make sure to talk with a doctor if you notice a lump that:

  • Appears on parts of the skin exposed to the sun such as the head, neck, arms and legs
  • Does not hurt
  • Grows quickly
  • Is red or purplish


Depending on the extent and location of your cancer, your team of surgical oncologists will recommend surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.

After your treatment, our team will closely monitor recovery and may recommend repeating the imaging and diagnostic tests previously performed. These tests help us determine how well the treatment is working and make sure the cancer is not spreading or returning.

Learn More

Call us Today

For a physician referral, please call:


Location Information

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
201 East University Parkway
Johnston Professional Building
Suite 107
Baltimore, MD 21218