Although there are several Merkel cell carcinoma risk factors associated with this relatively rare form of skin cancer, it is impossible to predict with certainty whether or not a person will develop Merkel cell carcinoma. Many individuals in St. Petersburg, Florida, may have one or more risk factors and never develop skin cancer. Others, on the other hand, develop Merkel cell carcinoma despite having no known risk factors.
With this uncertainty in mind, experts believe the following risk factors may increase an individual’s chance of developing Merkel cell carcinoma:
- Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light – Exposure to UV rays, most commonly from the sun or indoor tanning beds, can cause damage to the DNA in a person’s skin cells, which may lead to the development of Merkel cell carcinoma.
- Light skin color – Those with a lighter skin color, particularly those who are fair skinned or freckled, are more susceptible to damage from UV rays.
- Older age – Merkel cell carcinoma is most usually diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50, though it can occur at any stage of life.
- Previous skin cancer diagnosis – Those who have been previously diagnosed with skin cancer are at a heightened risk of developing Merkel cell carcinoma.
- Weakened immune system – Since the body’s immune system helps to fight viruses and diseases, including cancer, those with weakened immune systems from certain drugs, lymphomas or other factors, may be at a higher risk for developing Merkel cell carcinoma.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, located just across the bridge from St. Petersburg, FL, in nearby Tampa, more about Merkel cell carcinoma risk factors is being discovered every day. Moffitt has been named a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, a designation that speaks directly to our commitment to advancing Merkel cell carcinoma research and treatment. Furthermore, the experts in our Cutaneous Oncology Program have a uniquely high level of experience in treating this and other forms of skin cancer. And, when it comes to achieving favorable outcomes and an improved quality of life, this experience can make all the difference.
Residents of St. Petersburg, FL, who would like to discuss Merkel cell carcinoma risk factors with our experts can call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not required to visit Moffitt.