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Study links virus to some cases of common skin cancer
Date:7/30/2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio A virus discovered last year in a rare form of skin cancer has also been found in people with the second most common form of skin cancer among Americans, according to researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

The researchers examined tissue samples from 58 people with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a highly curable form of skin cancer that is expected to affect more than 200,000 Americans this year.

They identified the virus in more than a third of the patients and in 15 percent of the tumors tested. In addition, all of the virus found in tumor cells had a mutation that could enable the viral DNA to integrate into the DNA of the host cell.

"This is indirect evidence that the virus might play a role in causing some cases of squamous cell carcinoma," says principal investigator Amanda E. Toland, assistant professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics and a researcher with the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

The findings are published in a recent issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

The virus was first discovered in patients with Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare, aggressive skin cancer that occurs mainly in the elderly and people with a suppressed immune system. The people in the new study all had a healthy immune system.

"Originally it was thought that this virus caused only this rare skin cancer, but our findings indicate that it is a lot more prevalent than we initially thought."

To learn if people with SCC harbored the virus, Toland, working closely with first author and graduate research associate Amy Dworkin and Ohio State pathologists O. Hans Iwenofu and Sara B. Peters, examined DNA samples from SCC tumors; from normal-appearing skin adjacent to the tumor, when available; from white blood cells; and from cells washed
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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