Jefferson University Hospitals

Merkel Cell Cancer

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Merkel cell cancer is very rare and typically develops on or just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles, and most often is found on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the neck and head. If you are diagnosed with this condition, the experienced team at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson can carefully guide you through available treatment options that address all your medical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Bringing together the expertise of Jefferson oncologists, radiation therapists, dermatologists, plastic surgeons and other specialists, your medical team will give a thorough evaluation and recommend a personalized treatment plan depending on the size of the tumor, its location and its progression.

Advanced merkel cell cancer treatments offered at Jefferson include:

  • Mohs micrographic surgery, one of the most advanced methods used to remove cancerous skin and minimizes damage to surrounding healthy tissue and the risk of leaving cancerous tissue behind. This sophisticated procedure requires the specialized expertise possessed by Jefferson dermatologic surgeons and is often used to treat recurrent skin cancers.
  • Cryosurgery, a procedure that destroys lesions through the application of extremely cold substances
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage, a procedure in which the surface of lesions is scraped off and the tumor is destroyed through the application of an electric needle
  • Radiation therapy, which entails the precise delivery of radiation to destroy cancerous cells, while sparing healthy tissue surrounding the tumor
  • Chemotherapy, which may involve injected or ingested medications or the application of topical creams

We're Here For You

Through the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, we can also provide you and your family a support network that includes specially trained nurses, educators, fellow patients and cancer survivors. Among the wide variety of support programs offered at Jefferson is our Buddy Program, which matches cancer patients with trained volunteer cancer survivors who have been through treatment themselves. These volunteers provide one-on-one support either over the telephone or on-site in the waiting area at the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy/Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson.

You can also access services to meet your emotional and psychological needs during your course of treatment through the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health.