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Diagnosing MCC

When you walk into any dermatology clinic with complaints of symptoms, you will be tested to see if you have MCC or not. Diagnosis of MCC is done through a procedure known as a skin biopsy.

In this method, a part or the entire tumour is removed by the dermatologist and examined under a microscope to check for the presence of cancer cells. The dermatologist will also examine your lymph nodes, found in areas like your neck and underarms, and examine your skin too. The lymph nodes protect us from diseases and often swell up when we get sick. If the results from the biopsy prove you have MCC, you will have to undergo treatment.

Treating MCC

Due to the nature of MCC, immediate treatment is required, and this involves creating a treatment plan. It also involves a team of specialists including a dermatologist, an oncologist and a radiation oncologist (one who treats cancer with radiation)

Before treatment, the stage of the cancer is to be determined, and this is done through a procedure known as Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). This procedure tells the exact stage of cancer and how deep it has eaten into the body.

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SLNB procedure

During SLNB, a dye or a radioactive substance, or both are injected into the patient by the surgeon. Using a device, the surgeon monitors and follows the substance which will travel to the sentinel node. This is the first node that the cancer cells are likely to spread to. The lymph node is removed by the surgeon and examined for cancer cells. If found to be present, more lymph nodes are removed until there are no more lymph nodes containing cancer cells. After the removal of the lymph nodes, the Merkel cell tumour is removed.

Treatment procedure

Before treatment begins, the stage of cancer will be determined. There are three stages, based on the location. They are

  1. Local stage: present only on the skin
  2. Nodal stage: present on skin and lymph nodes
  3. Metastatic stage:  present on other parts of the body beyond the skin and lymph nodes

Determining the stage of cancer must be done by a well-experienced dermatologist. We at Clear skin London have a team of dermatologist Harley street London to help you find out the stage of cancer.

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MCC can be treated by;

  • Mohs surgery: This is a surgical procedure whereby a Mohs surgeon removes layer by layer of skin infused with cancer cells until there are no more cancer cells left.
  • Excision: This is the removal of the tumour and surrounding tissues that looks healthy
  • Chemotherapy: This is for patients with an advanced form of MCC. Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.
  • Lymphadenectomy: This is the surgical removal of the lymph nodes. It is also called lymph node dissection.
  • Radiation treatment: This is a form of precaution against MCC after treatment. This is because MCC has a tendency to return after treatment. Because of this, patients undergo radiation treatment within 4 weeks of treatment to prevent it from coming back.

Preventing MCC

Even after treatment, precautions should still be taken to ensure MCC does not return. These precautions include;

  1. Protect your skin from the sun, especially when outdoors
  2. Maintain all appointments and follow-up appointments with your doctor. Our dermatologist London often recommends follow-up examinations every 3 – 6 months for at least 2 years after treatment
  3. Engage in self-examination as often as possible
  4. Consult your doctor regularly

Being diagnosed with MCC is not a death sentence. You can return to your normal life, provided you are completely treated. At our dermatology clinic, we have some of the best dermatologists in London available at all times to examine you.

Call us today on 020 71833648. We look forward to hearing from you.