Musician Jimmy Buffett passed away from Merkel cell skin cancer after a four-year battle. Despite his health struggles, he continued performing, surprising fans at a show in July 2022. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones.
Merkel cell skin cancer is a rare type where cancerous cells form in the skin’s top layer, often in exposed areas like the head, neck, arms, legs, and trunk. It tends to spread to lymph nodes and distant organs.
Risk factors include age over 50, being male, White, sun exposure, tanning beds, a weakened immune system, and a history of other cancers. About 3,000 Americans get it yearly, making it the second leading cause of skin cancer death after melanoma.
Signs include a fast-growing, painless lump that may change color. It can appear anywhere, even in unexposed skin. Consult a doctor if you notice such changes.
While sun exposure is a risk factor, a common virus, Merkel cell polyomavirus, is also implicated in the cancer’s development. Prevention tips include sun protection and monitoring skin changes.