New York patients who are at risk for skin cancers should be on the lookout for Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare type of skin cancer that is known for spreading quickly throughout the body within a short time. Although it is rarer than melanoma, it has a higher mortality rate as it kills one in three patients while melanoma kills one in nine patients.

There are several key risk factors and warning signs for Merkel cell carcinomas. For example, those who are over the age of 50, are male and have a light skin color are more likely to develop Merkel cell carcinomas than others. Further, those who had ultraviolet exposure from tanning beds or the sun are also more likely to develop the carcinomas. Finally, those who have suppressed immune systems due to other conditions are also at risk.

If they are diagnosed and treated early, Merkel cell carcinomas are usually curable. However, an early diagnosis is key as they are extremely aggressive and will spread rapidly. When they first appear, they may look like small red, blue, purple or skin-colored nodules that are painless. About 48 percent of the time, they are found on the head, neck and on the eyelids.

An early diagnosis is key for those who have Merkel cell carcinomas. A misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis could have a major impact on a patient's prognosis and even cause a lowered chance of survival. Those who have been harmed due to a physician's failure to diagnose this type of skin cancer may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician. An attorney may investigate the case to determine if the delayed diagnosis constituted a failure to exhibit the requisite standard of care.


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