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Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the United States. Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a type of skin cancer, but it's not common. About 2,000 cases of MCC are diagnosed in the United States each year.
But the number of people diagnosed with MCC each year has been rising quickly over the past few decades. Some of this is probably because lab tests to diagnose these cancers have become more accurate. But the rise in MCC might also be caused by increases in risk factors. For instance, people are living longer, and more people are living with weakened immune systems.
More than 4 out of 5 Americans diagnosed with MCC are older than age 70. And men are nearly 2-times more likely to have it compared with women.
MCC is much more common in White people than in people of other races (more than 9 out of 10 cases of MCC in the United States are diagnosed in them) .
For survival statistics, see Survival Rates for Merkel Cell Carcinoma.
Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Brady M, Spiker AM. Cancer, Skin, Merkel Cell. [Updated 2017 Dec 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan.
Merkelcell.org. Seattle Multidisciplinary MCC Team, University of Washington MCC Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Skin Cancer. What is Merkel cell carcinoma? Accessed at www.merkelcell.org/about-mcc/what-is-merkel-cell-carcinoma/ on July 23, 2018.
Tetzlaff MT, Nagarajan P. Update on Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Head Neck Pathol. 2018;12(1):31-43.
Last Revised: October 9, 2018
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