Unlike melanoma, which may begin as a mole, Merkel cell carcinoma shows up as a single pink, red, or purple bump, usually on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, arms, and legs. The American Cancer Society (ACS) also notes that the skin on top of the tumor can sometimes break open and bleed.
“I tell patients that if they have a skin growth, such as a spot or bump, that was not there before and has not gone away or keeps growing, see a dermatologist to get it evaluated,” says Dr. Geskin. “About 90% of the time, these growths are going to be benign. A dermatologist can sometimes tell what it is by looking at it, but other times, we might need to do a biopsy to figure out the cause of the growth. The earlier we know the cause, the easier it is to treat.”