NORFOLK, Va. — Days after Jimmy Buffett died, the spotlight is now on a rare form of skin cancer that took his life.
Four years ago, doctors diagnosed the "Margaritaville" singer with Merkel cell carcinoma, an aggressive type of skin cancer that often spreads to lymph nodes and organs. The Skin Cancer Foundation shared this overview of Merkel cell which says approximately 3,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the U.S.
13News Now spoke to Dr. James Bota with Pariser Dermatology in Hampton Roads, who says this type of skin cancer tends to affect people over 50 years old with a history of sun exposure and those who are immunocompromised. There is treatment available and the outcome depends on the stage of the disease.
"It's a rapidly growing enlarging non-painful nodule. You see your dermatologist, it gets biopsied, it gets diagnosed," Dr. James Bota explained. "Depending on the size of the primary tumor, you may get surgery alone, you may get surgery with a surgical lymph node dissection, you may get some imaging and you may get some immunotherapy."
Dr. Bota also suggested wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer and if you have a history of sun exposure, make sure you get regular skin exams.