Merkel Cell Carcinoma - Multidisciplinary Merkel Cell Carcinoma Program
Merkel cell carcinoma is considered a rare form of skin cancer compared to more common forms, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. However, the number of patients diagnosed with Merkel cell carcinoma is thought to have tripled over the past two decades. Due to the nature of this skin cancer, the management of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma requires the collaboration of multiple surgical and medical specialties. To provide the best possible care for the growing number of patients, the University of Michigan has developed one of the first multidisciplinary clinics in the country solely devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.
Patients seen in the Merkel Cell Carcinoma Clinic receive thorough and prompt diagnosis and treatment. During an initial consultation, patients are staged, counseled, and educated about their disease and an initial treatment plan is developed. Each patient is discussed at a multidisciplinary tumor board conference devoted exclusively to Merkel cell carcinoma, including such specialties as dermatology, cutaneous oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, head and neck surgery, pathology, and nursing. The best course of treatment and overall management for each patient and family is determined by this group of collaborative colleagues. Working closely with the patient, their family and community physicians, great care is taken to coordinate treatment and follow-up care close to home when possible and to minimize trips to Ann Arbor.