The first sign of Merkel cell carcinoma is usually a fast-growing, painless nodule (tumor) on your skin. The nodule may be skin colored or may appear in shades of red, blue or purple. Most Merkel cell carcinomas appear on the face, head or neck, but they can develop anywhere on your body, even on areas not exposed to sunlight.

When to see a doctor

If you notice a mole, freckle or bump that is changing in size, shape or color, growing rapidly or bleeding easily after minor trauma, such as washing your skin or shaving, make an appointment with your doctor.

Dec. 11, 2012