Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment Program

World-renown specialists and superb resources for diagnosing and staging cancer combined with leading-edge treatment approaches provide personalized care for patients with this rare type of skin cancer.
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Talk to an access nurse today 617-726-5130

Overview

Our Merkel Cell Treatment Program is comprised of world-renown 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

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.

Learn more about research.

Meet the Team

Our multidisciplinary team of Surgeons, Medical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Dermatologists and Pathologists work together to develop a personalized treatment plan specifically for your Stage of disease. If clinical trials are available and appropriate for your stage of disease, participation in a clinical trial may be discussed with you.

View the list of Merkel Cell Carcinoma team members

Patient Education

What is a Merkel cell?
  • Merkel cells are a type of neuroendocrine cell. This means they have features of both nerve cells and hormone-making cells.
  • Merkel cells are mostly found in the outermost layer of the skin and in hair follicles. Merkel cells relay the sensation of touch from the skin cells that provide barrier function – keratinocytes - to nerve fibers located in the skin.
What is Merkel cell carcinoma?

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. Merkel cell carcinoma tends to grow quickly. Treatment options depend on if it has spread beyond the skin.

Learn more about Merkel Cell Carcinoma

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.

Contact

New Patients

(those who have not previously seen a doctor within the Mass General/Partners Healthcare Network)

Step 1. Obtain a medical record number (MRN).
Call the Mass General Registration & Referral Center to register as a patient and obtain an MRN: 866-211-6588.

Step 2. Call the Cancer Center new patient appointment line: 617-726-5130.
The schedulers can assist you in making the first available appointment with the appropriate physician. To help your call go smoothly, please have ready your:

    • Full name and date of birth
    • Medical record number
    • Medical diagnosis

Existing Patients

Call 617-724-4000. They will connect you with your treatment team.

Request an Appointment Request a Remote Second Opinion

Talk to an access nurse today 617-726-5130

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