Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare, aggressive cancer. Treatment options and outcome data are somewhat limited.

Excision. The first choice of treatment for early-stage Merkel cell carcinoma is wide excision.1

Lymph node dissection. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, your doctor may recommend removing them with surgery.

Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may be used as adjuvant treatment. It may be used to treat the tumor site after excision or to treat the area where lymph nodes were removed. In some cases, radiation therapy is the primary treatment if surgery is not possible.1

Systemic medications. If Merkel cell carcinoma spreads to distant parts of the body, systemic medications are an option. Bavencio® (avelumab) is the first drug specifically approved for metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma.2 It is a type of immunotherapy. Chemotherapy also may be used to treat Merkel cell carcinoma.1

Written by: Sarah O'Brien | Last reviewed: May 2017.
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