How Long It Takes To Recover From Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
The duration takes for complete recovery deepens on the grade and stage of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) and the effectiveness of treatment. The main treatment modality is surgical resection of the primary lesion. The lesion should be completely removed with a clear margin of at least 2cm to remove the Merkel cell carcinoma completely. However, even with a margin of more than 2 cm local recurrence can still occur and the recurrence rates are about 44%. Most of these recurrences occur within 5 months to 1 year after primary treatment. The recurrence depends on the stage of the disease, stage III and IV have a higher recurrence rate even after treatment. The higher recurrence rates can be due to the spread of cancer cells hap hazardously to adjacent healthy skin. therefore, recurrence can occur even a few centimeters away from the primary lesion.
If Merkel cell carcinoma is only localized without any spread to the local lymph nodes then the recovery is fast. If the lymph nodes are involved then additional surgery and radiotherapy will be needed. If metastasis is present then radiotherapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy are required for complete recovery and it will take several months to achieve this status. If Merkel cell carcinoma is in an advanced stage before surgery adjuvant radiotherapy/chemotherapy is needed to shrink the tumor.
The 5-year survival rate depends on the stage of cancer. If the cancer is localized then the 5-year survival rate is about 78%. If it’s regional then the 5-year survival rate is about 51% and if it’s distant then the 5-year survival rate is as low as 17%. Sometimes for patients with distant metastasis, the only option would be palliative treatment. (1) (2)
How Long Do The Symptoms Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma Last?
First, let’s see what are the symptoms. Merkel cell carcinoma lesions are usually seen in sun-exposed areas commonly in head, neck, and arm but it also can occur in the area, even in areas that are not exposed to the sun such as buttocks and scalp. The symptoms are rapidly growing lesions on the skin which is painless and appears blue or red.
The lesion does not appear scaly or ulcerated. Usually, the patient notices the lump and present to the doctor as it is unusual and rapidly growing. If metastasis develops according to the organ which has secondary deposits symptoms may develop.
The exact period of how long the symptoms last cannot be told. The skin lesion will disappear after surgical excision but if metastasis is present then the symptoms due to secondary deposits can persist until the metastasis is treated by radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or combination of any those. Sometimes the metastasis is not treatable and palliative therapy would be the option. The period the symptoms lasts depends on the grade and stage of the tumor, the effectiveness of treatment and recurrence. (3) (4)
The duration of the recovery period depends on the grade and stage of Merkel cell carcinoma at diagnosis and the effectiveness of the treatment. If Merkel cell carcinoma is localized with surgical resection complete cure can be achieved. But if it’s spread to other parts of the body then the recovery can take some time as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or combination of these are needed for complete recovery. Sometimes recovery would not be possible and palliative treatment would be the only option. The main symptom of Merkel cell carcinoma is the skin lesion which will be removed with surgical excision other than that if metastasis is present symptoms can occur and with the recovery of the distant metastasis the symptoms will also resolve.
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