Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Bringing a Rogue Skin Cancer Under Control

December 1, 2015


Dermatology Focus

Publication Date

December 1, 2015


Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD—Head of Dermatology and George F. Odland Endowed Chair at the University of Washington became a passionate and committed explorer somewhat over 10 years ago when he took his first game-changing steps into the uncharted territory of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), the rare and highly lethal skin cancer he had come to specialize in managing. A little-known skin cancer at that time, its ~46% mortality at 5 years — nearly three times that of melanoma — makes it a truly feared skin cancer. Yet MCC was so off the radar back then that almost no major centers had a true interest in caring for this unique clinical entity. There was little agreement on how to treat early disease, and the toolbox for effective treatment of advanced disease was empty.

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