Single fraction adjuvant radiation therapy (SFRT) effective for MCC

July 29, 2020

Nghiem Lab research team demonstrates effectiveness of Single fraction adjuvant radiation therapy for treating patients with Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).

The team, consisting of investigators from UW Divisions of Dermatology and Medical Oncology and the Departments of Radiation Oncology Radiology, recently published the article “Post operative single fraction radiation therapy in Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck” in Advances in Radiation Oncology. 

Typical treatment for MCC includes surgical excision and relatively high dose (50 Gy) radiation therapy over a course of 5-6 weeks. This high dose radiation can have particularly adverse side effects for patients with MCC on the head and neck and the long treatment course also poses challenges for those with mobility limitations, or who live far from the treating facility.

As an alternative to this higher dose and long course radiation therapy, SFRT has a much lower toxicity at 8 Gy. This is the first study to demonstrate promising outcomes with a single fraction post-operative radiation therapy in localized MCC of the head and neck region.

“I believe that this is the beginning of a significant paradigm shift that our team hopes to lead in MCC care as we track these and other patients over time. This approach appears to be effective and far less toxic to patients than 50 Gy over 5-6 weeks,” says Dr. Paul Nghiem, Director of the Nghiem Lab.