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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms



Merkel cell cancer  listen  (MER-kul sel KAN-ser)

  A rare type of cancer that forms on or just beneath the skin, usually in parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun. It is most common in older people and in people with weakened immune systems. Also called Merkel cell carcinoma, neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin, and trabecular cancer.

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Anatomy of the skin with Merkel cells; drawing shows normal skin anatomy, including the epidermis, dermis, hair follicles, sweat glands, hair shafts, veins, arteries, fatty tissue, nerves, lymph vessels, oil glands, and subcutaneous tissue. The pullout shows a close-up of the epidermis with Merkel cells above the dermis with a vein and artery. Nerves are connected to Merkel cells.