Skin/ Cutaneous Oncology

Summary of Program

The skin/cutaneous oncology research program is a highly interdisciplinary group of investigators dedicated to reducing the incidence and mortality from all types of skin cancers. The program fosters interdisciplinary research in basic science, genetics, clinical medicine, cancer prevention, and epidemiology. Our team is comprised of faculty from Fred Hutch Cancer CenterUniversity of Washington, Benaroya Research Institute, and the clinical community to improve skin cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. 

Program Strengths

Clinicians at the Multidisciplinary Skin Oncology Clinic embrace a holistic approach to patient care. Knowledgeable on a spectrum of skin cancers, our team enables improved health outcomes. Treatments include cryosurgery, laser therapy, curettage, electrodessication, Mohs surgery, radiation therapy and topical chemotherapy. With the most advanced and innovative therapies offered at the SCCA to treat a spectrum of skin cancers, the Skin Oncology Clinic is among the top leaders in cancer care.


In our comprehensive skin cancer research program, investigators are harnessing the power of the immune system to kill cancerous cells, or immunotherapy, as a promising treatment for melanoma.

Melanoma: A team led of Fred Hutch researchers reported that a patients' own tumor-fighting cells wiped out his melanoma without chemotherapy or radiation treatment. If the technique—known as adoptive T-cell therapy—shows promise in a larger set of patients, this therapy could be used for 25 percent of all late-stage melanoma patients. Learn more >

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Drs. Denise Galloway and Paul Nghiem developed a blood test to detect the presence of the Merkel cell polyomavirus, the virus that can cause an aggressive form of skin cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Galloway and Nghiem determined the virus is extremely common in the general population, but only becomes MCC in a minority of people. Subsequent research identified polyomavirus protein fragments that can be recognized by the body’s T cells. Theses disease-fighting T cells can be used to kill MCC cells containing the protein fragment. Learn more >

Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Currently, our doctors are using an immune-response modifier (imiquimod) to treat early basal cell carcinoma and a topical medicine for squamous cell carcinoma precursors as well as thin, squamous cell carcinomas. Learn more >

Expertise ι Expertise Videos

Dr. Paul Nghiem
STTR Skin/Cutaneous Oncology Deputy Director 

Dr. Paul Nghiem is a dermatologist who directs a research lab concentrated on basic, clinical, and translational research on Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) and skin cancer more broadly. In about 80% of cases, MCC is caused by the Merkel cell polyomavirus, while in the remaining 20% of cases it is caused by damage from UV light (sunlight). His lab is involved in diverse studies on this increasingly common and often lethal skin cancer to determine its basic genetic underpinnings as well as its clinical course and optimal management. He leads UW Dermatology, and his clinical and research interests include Merkel cell carcinoma, melanoma, and complex skin cancer management in a multidisciplinary team.

Learn more at the Nghiem Lab