Explore the Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment Program

Overview

Our Merkel Cell Treatment Program is comprised of world-renowned specialists for a rare type of skin cancer. We integrate superb resources for diagnosing and staging cancer with leading-edge treatment approaches to provide personalized care for our patients. Having many sub-specialists from different areas working together allows us to bring a unified focus to the evaluation, treatment, and support of our patients.

Patients with Merkel cell carcinoma are staged by history and physical exam, radiographic imaging and sentinel lymph node biopsy. Because Merkel cell carcinoma has a high rate of spreading to regional lymph nodes and distant areas of the body, we recommend a PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography) or a CT plus an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the brain to look for evidence of distant disease. In addition, we recommend that patients undergo a biopsy of a lymph node or a few nodes that drain the area of the primary (original skin tumor) Merkel cell carcinoma.

Multidisciplinary Patient Care

Your team of Merkel cell carcinoma experts include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, dermatologists and pathologists. We will develop and coordinate a treatment plan personalized for you and your stage of cancer. We will meet often to review your progress and will communicate findings with you and your referring doctor. This clear communication leads to seamless coordination of your care.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Cancers

A precise, accurate diagnosis is critical to appropriate treatment. Our specialists are at the forefront of techniques that improve the identification, evaluation, and monitoring of Merkel cell carcinoma. The diagnostic and staging information provided by these specialists helps define the best treatment for your disease.

Excellence in Surgical Care

Our surgeons offer the highest degree of clinical expertise. Among the procedures offered here are:

  • Surgical excision
  • Lymphatic mapping and sentinel node biopsy, which can determine if cancer has spread

Learn about Mass General's Melanoma & Skin Cancer Surgery Program.

Pioneering Radiation Therapies

Our experienced team carefully chooses the precise radiation technique for you. The goal of your radiation therapy may be to reduce the size of tumors or as an adjuvant therapy following removal of lymph nodes. Our radiation technologists are skilled at standard and novel technologies.

Learn more about radiation therapy.

Medical Oncology

Our medical oncologists offer innovative approaches including:

  • Immune-stimulating medications known as Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Chemotherapeutic medications to shrink early tumors
  • Oncologists and specially trained nurses provide personal attention and advice on coping with side effects.

Developing Better Therapies through Research

The Merkel cell carcinoma center at Mass General Cancer Center is actively pursuing several lines of investigation into Merkel cell carcinoma. We are developing a clinical and translational research program that incorporates basic science to better understand the fundamental biology of MCC, translational research to investigate biomarkers that may predict response to therapy and clinical trials to improve the therapeutic options for patients with the disease.

Clinical Trials

The Merkel cell carcinoma center at Mass General Cancer Center is actively pursuing several lines of investigation into Merkel cell carcinoma. We are developing a clinical and translational research program that incorporates basic science to better understand the fundamental biology of Merkel cell carcinoma, translational research to investigate biomarkers that may predict response to therapy and clinical trials to improve the therapeutic options for patients with the disease.

Find listings of our current clinical trials for Merkel Cell Carcinoma.


Patient Education and Resources

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer. It is also known as primary neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin, trabecular carcinoma of the skin, primary small cell carcinoma of the skin and cutaneous apudoma.

Preparing for Your Visit

Preparing for Your Visit

A checklist of items to bring with you for your first visit and helpful information.

Supportive Care

Supportive Care

We offer a variety of education and support resources to help you and your family.

Px

Px

A simple way to connect with the various resources available to you at the Cancer Center.

Workshops & Support Groups

Workshops & Support Groups

We offer a wide range of integrative therapies, workshops and support groups.

Wellness calendar

Wellness calendar

See our Wellness and Support Program calendar.