University of Washington,
Microbiology, Infection & Immunity
Immunobiology & Immune Therapy for Merkel cell carcinoma
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Merkel cell carcinoma is usually caused in part by an extremely common (typically harmless) virus that was discovered in 2008, the Merkel cell polyomavirus. Another very important cause is extensive exposure to sunlight, possibly many years earlier, and this cancer typically presents in Caucasians with a relatively light skin tone. This cancer is more likely to kill a patient than malignant melanoma. Immune therapy is proving effective in about 50% of patients.