The Melanoma Letter SUMMER 2009, Vol. 27, No. 2

This issue of The Melanoma Letteris dedicated to one of the less common skin cancers, Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). This potentially lethal cancer – more frequently fatal than melanoma – was recently featured in headline news worldwide due to the landmark discovery that viral oncogenesis may be responsible for triggering its development. Evidence is mounting that, much the way human papillomavirus induces cervical cancer and herpesvirus induces Kaposi’s sarcoma, a mutated polyomavirus may induce the majority of Merkel cell carcinomas.

In our lead story, Dr. Jürgen Becker presents an excellent review of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, staging and current treatment options for Merkel cell carcinoma. In the accompanying report, the evidence linking a polyomavirus to Merkel cell carcinoma and the fascinating process by which this evidence was uncovered are described in detail by Drs. Moschos, Chang and Moore, integral members of the group that discovered the role of this polyomavirus in MCC. It is the shared hope of researchers and clinicians that their discovery will lead to a better understanding of MCC and successful therapies.