Fred Hutch News releases article, “A new blood test detects recurrence of rare skin cancer”

December 12, 2016


Fred Hutch News Service

Publication Date

December 12, 2016


Rachel Tompa Summary

On December 12, 2016, Fred Hutch News Service published an article. on the Merkel cell carcinoma antibody test. The article highlights how a curiosity-driven project ultimately led to the development of an inexpensive blood test for Merkel cell carcinoma recurrence. The recently published study reports that the antibody test has accurately predicted the recurrence of MCC in over 100 patients. For all MCC patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the blood test is performed in a clinical laboratory at UW (costing roughly $200). Physicians nationwide have begun ordering the test for patients as well. In light of the new publication released, the team hopes it encourages more doctors and patients to use the test.


It began eight years ago, when a newly published scientific paper caught Dr. Denise Galloway’s eye.

The paper described the discovery of a new virus, Merkel cell polyomavirus, that drives the majority of cases of Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare but aggressive skin cancer.

Within days of that publication, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center virologist was on the phone to her colleague, University of Washington and Fred Hutch skin cancer researcher Dr. Paul Nghiem, a specialist in Merkel cell carcinoma.

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