Merkel cell carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma overview

You are at the center of everything we do at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Here, we surround you with a team of specialists who work together closely to provide expertly targeted, complete care and compassionate support throughout your treatment and beyond.

We guide you every step of the way, combining our deep clinical expertise in Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) with a commitment to meet your unique needs.

Why choose SCCA? 

  • World-renown Merkel cell carcinoma experts
    We have one of the most active MCC clinical and research programs in the world, led by Paul Nghiem, MD. Dr. Nghiem is a dermatologist and scientist at the forefront of MCC care. Our team of experts also includes surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists at our Multidisciplinary Skin Oncology Clinic.
  • Merkel cell carcinoma-specialized surgeons
    Our skin cancer surgeon team includes experts in surgical oncology, reconstruction and head and neck surgery. This team specializes in the treatment of MCC and you can feel confident knowing that the surgeon who cares for you is best-suited for your specific diagnosis.
  • Where you’re treated first matters most
    Studies have shown that patients evaluated and treated at a multidisciplinary cancer center, like SCCA, have better outcomes — and that the first treatment you receive for cancer is by far the most important. Patients who begin treatment at SCCA often have better outcomes than those who started treatment elsewhere.
  • A national leader in cancer care
    SCCA is the leading cancer treatment center in the region and among the top nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report. 
  • NCI comprehensive cancer center
    We are a comprehensive cancer center, a designation from the National Cancer Institute that reflects our scientific leadership and the depth and breadth of our research to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
Medical oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist is often the main health care provider for someone who has cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists. Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation.

Treatment

Our experienced doctors are well known for providing innovative Merkel cell carcinoma treatments, including immunotherapy, vaccine protocols and gene therapy as well as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Gene The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. Radiation therapy The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body.

Providers

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes physicians, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.

Clinical trials

SCCA unites the leading researchers and cancer specialists of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine so you can take part in MCC clinical studies not available everywhere. SCCA was a leading clinical trial site for avelumab (Bavencio), the first treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for metastatic MCC.

Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Clinical trial A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a disease. Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.