Merkel cell carcinoma risk factors are behaviors and conditions that are thought to increase an individual’s likelihood of developing this type of skin cancer. Many of these factors are directly linked to excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, especially for residents of Clearwater, Florida, where the sun’s rays are especially strong, though a number of other risk factors have also been identified. However, it is important to remember that the presence of these factors does not necessarily mean an individual will develop Merkel cell carcinoma. Conversely, it is also possible to develop this form of skin cancer without any known risk factors being present.
While there is no definitive way to determine if an individual will develop Merkel cell carcinoma, several risk factors have been linked to a higher likelihood of developing this relatively rare form of skin cancer. These factors include:
- Light skin color, because darker skin is thought to offer some natural protection against harmful UV rays
- Older age, because while Merkel cell carcinoma can occur at any age, it is most often diagnosed in patients over the age of 50
- Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, because large amounts of UV light can cause cancerous changes in skin cells’ DNA
- A weakened immune system, because this reduces the body’s ability to effectively fight diseases
- A previous skin cancer diagnosis, because individuals are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer after they have already had it once
Regardless of whether or not specific Merkel cell carcinoma risk factors are present, residents of Clearwater, FL, should perform regular skin checks themselves and make professional skin cancer screenings part of their health care routines. As part of our commitment to raising awareness for Merkel cell carcinoma and other skin cancers, Moffitt Cancer Center offers the Mole Patrol®, a program that provides free skin cancer screening services, education and sunscreen samples throughout the Tampa Bay area year-round. Additionally, Moffitt remains dedicated to advancing Merkel cell carcinoma research and treatment every day, and our efforts have resulted in our prestigious designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.
Residents of Clearwater, FL, who would like to learn more about Merkel cell carcinoma risk factors are welcome to call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not required to schedule a consultation at Moffitt.