What are the key statistics about Merkel cell carcinoma?
While skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the United States, Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is not common. It’s thought that about 1,500 cases of Merkel cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year.
The number of these cancers diagnosed each year has been rising quickly over the past few decades. Some of this is probably because MCC was first described only about 40 years ago. Doctors have become more aware of MCC since then, and lab tests to diagnose these cancers have become more accurate. But the rise in MCC might also be caused by increases in risk factors such as people living longer and getting more sun exposure, and by more people living with weakened immune systems.
More than 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with MCC are older than age 50; more than 2 out of 3 are older than 70.
MCC is much more common in whites than in people of other races. More than 9 out of 10 cases of MCC in the United States develop in whites.
For survival statistics, see the section “Survival rates for Merkel cell carcinoma.”
Last Medical Review: 04/13/2015
Last Revised: 04/27/2015