Which risk factors are associated with Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC)?

Updated: Jan 18, 2019
  • Author: Arjun S Joshi, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Risk factors for MCC include exposure to sun and UV light. MCC appears to be correlated with the UV-B index. The increased incidence of MCC among populations with regular sun exposure supports this correlation. In addition, exposure to methoxsalen and UV-A (which are used to treat psoriasis), as well as arsenic, appear to be factors in the development of MCC.

Immunosuppression appears to be a significant risk factor for MCC. Patients who have undergone organ transplantation and who are taking immunosuppressive drugs long term appear to be at increased risk for developing MCC. Further supporting this relationship are the observations that rates of MCC rise among people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (13.4-fold increase in the relative risk) and in those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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