Which physical findings are characteristic of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC)?

Updated: Oct 07, 2019
  • Author: Guy J Petruzzelli, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: Gregory Gary Caputy, MD, PhD, FICS  more...
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The physical appearance of MCC is often that of a solitary nodule or plaque with a red, violaceous hue. Considering the similarity in appearance to BCC, clinicians must ensure proper diagnosis and respective treatment of these lesions. MCC often occurs in sun-exposed skin, with approximately 50% developing on the head and neck and 33% developing on the extremities. [29]  It can also occur on the breast. [30]

Regardless of the treatment, more than 50% of the patients develop regional lymph node metastasis. In approximately 36% of cases, distant metastasis is seen. [31]  The most common sites for distant metastases include the brain, bone, liver, and skin. One report noted MCC metastasis to the pancreas.  [32]

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