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ECPC Awareness Campaign on Merkel Cell Carcinoma – Press Release


21 May 2020


Health & Consumers

Today, the European Cancer Patient Coalition launches their first awareness campaign on Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC). With this campaign, ECPC wants to raise awareness on this rare but extremely aggressive form of skin cancer known to have a 25 – 40% chance of recurring and spreading (metastasizing) in two to three years after first diagnosis.

Merkel cell carcinoma is 40 times rarer and three to five times more deadly than melanoma, with a 5-year survival rate of 50% - 76%, depending on how much the disease has metastasized. Therefore, it is crucial to diagnose and initiate the treatment early. Even though Merkel Cell Carcinoma usually appears on the skin surface, the diagnosis is not so straightforward as MCC is often misdiagnosed. Delays in detection lead to late diagnosis and treatment, such that recurrences are common and successful treatment is more difficult to achieve.

Antonella Cardone, Director of ECPC says, ‘Given the rarity yet severity of this cancer, ECPC believes it is important to spread awareness of Merkel Cell Carcinoma also among policy makers with a call to action to address rare cancers in the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Early diagnosis is crucial to save lives and many do not know the signs and symptoms of Merkel Cell Carcinoma which are different from Melanoma.’

MCC presents itself as a red, purple, blue or pink raised nodule that is not painful neither tender. Those with fair skin, the over 50’s, immunosuppressed and those exposed to tanning beds or UV rays are most commonly at risk. Prevention can include avoiding tanning, using a high sun protection factor, staying in the shade and wearing long clothing. However, a good habit to establish, is checking yourself regularly for any changes.

Prof. Veronique Del Marmol, Head of Department of Dermatology at Erasmus Hospital, stated ‘People should check themselves once a month. The most common places MCC occurs would usually be the face and sun-exposed areas, but people should not overlook a full body check as this cancer spreads within a few weeks or months so identifying anything unusual quickly is important.’

During the month of May, ECPC will be spreading awareness of this rare and aggressive disease to a wider audience across our first ever MCC social media campaign. You can get involved by sharing our posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or posting our images on your own social media.

About ECPC

European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) is the voice of cancer patients in Europe. With over 450 members, ECPC is Europe’s largest umbrella cancer patients’ association, covering all 28 EU member states and many other European and non-European countries. ECPC represents patients affected by all types of cancers, from the rarest to the most common.

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