Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Facts

Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Facts
Merkel Cell Polyomavirus was discovered in 2008 and is considered one of only seven known oncoviruses. It is believed to be the main cause of Merkel cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that is aggressive but rare. Roughly 80% of Merkel cell carcinomas are infected with Merkel cell polyomavirus. The virus is found in respiratory secretions and is common in adults and older children, making it a common virus. Because it is also found in healthy skin as it sheds and in gastrointestinal tissue, the transmission of the virus remains a mystery. Merkel cell carcinoma was discovered in 1972 by Cyril Toker, but the virus was not described until 2008.
Interesting Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Facts:
Merkel cell carcinoma, believed to be caused by the Merkel cell polyomavirus, has increased from 500 to 1,500 cases a year in only the past 20 years. It is considered a rare form of skin cancer but also very aggressive.
Merkel cell carcinoma is more likely to occur in individuals that have AIDS or have organ transplantation are therefore immunosuppressed.
Merkel cell polyomavirus is more commonly found in carcinoma tumors in North America than in Australia.
Although Merkel cell polyomavirus is contagious, Merkel cell carcinoma is not.
Preventing Merkel cell carcinoma may be possible by avoiding sunburns and using protective clothing or lotion to keep exposure to the sun at a minimum.
Although scientists believe that Merkel cell polyomavirus causes Merkel cell carcinoma, not all tumors of this type are caused by the virus. This may be due to the idea that the skin cancer labeled as Merkel cell carcinoma may actually be two or more related cancers.
It is estimated that most people are infected with Merkel cell polyomavirus before they reach the age of twenty.
Infection with Merkel cell polyomavirus does not result in symptoms and because Merkel cell carcinoma is rare there are no screening tests or even treatment protocols even if one is determined to be infected.
Merkel cell carcinoma is more common in older white men (over the age of 80) and rarely occurs in the under 40 year old population.
The most common place for Merkel cell carcinoma tumors to appear are the head and neck, followed by the extremities and the trunk.
Other risk factors for Merkel cell carcinoma include being older, being male, having a weakened immune system, having lighter skin tone, and exposure to UV light such as sun or tanning bed exposure.
Treatment for Merkel cell carcinoma includes surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Merkel cell polyomavirus has gained a lot of attention since its discovery in 2008 because it further adds to the idea that viruses may lead to cancer.
Transmission of Merkel cell polyomavirus is not fully understood as it is found in various parts of the body and it has not been possible to determine how it is spread.
Merkel cell polyomavirus may also be associated with other cancers and diseases such as cutaneous cell carcinoma, cervical carcinoma, basal cell skin carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, extrapulmonary small cell carcinoma, and Bowen's disease.

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