Rare Merkel-cell skin cancer on the rise

June 10, 2016
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Cases of the aggressive skin cancer — Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), have nearly doubled in the past 20 years in Sweden, scientists say. According to dermatologists, this cancer type is still rare, but it becomes more aggressive year by year. E.g., in the past two decades 594 patients were diagnosed with MCC in Sweden.

The report of dermatologists and researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy in a University of Gothenburg demonstrates thrilling figures regarding Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) in Sweden. From 1996 to 2015 this cancer type became very aggressive, and the main reason is too much sun, says Oscar Zaar, a dermatologist and Research Fellow at Sahlgrenska Academy.

So, Swedish health authorities have reason to be concerned, MCC is on the rise in Scandinavian countries, not only in Sweden. Researchers find a significant increase in cases of this cancer, as figures from Report shows — the number of cases per 100,000 capita increased by 100 percent from 1993 to 2012. This is enough loud alarm for health authorities, because this carcinoma has a very high mortality rate. According to a study at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy, a third of all who contracted this cancer were dead after five years.

Over half of these cases of the cancer developed in the head and neck region of the patients. “This indicates that the Sun’s UV rays have a big impact on the diagnosis,” says dermatologist and researcher Oscar Zaar.
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