Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. If you have symptoms of cancer contact your doctor.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer

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Research for skin cancer

Read the latest UK research looking at skin cancer.

All cancer treatments have to be fully researched before they can be used for everyone. This is so we can be sure that:

  • they work
  • they work better than the treatments already available 
  • they're known to be safe

The latest research into causes, prevention, treatment and trials for skin cancer is outlined below.

Preventing skin cancer


Retinoids are chemicals similar to vitamin A. They have shown promise in some trials as a way of preventing new skin cancers developing.

They might be useful for people who have repeated skin cancers. For example, people who have weakened immune system following an organ transplant can develop squamous cell skin cancers. Researchers are trying to find the best type and dose of retinoid to use.

Causes of skin cancer

Risks and benefits of sunlight

One study looked at measuring the risks and benefits of exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause damage to the skin cells and lead to skin cancer. But some sunlight is necessary for our bodies to make vitamin D. Researchers want to find a way of measuring markers that show skin damage. 

They want to find out:

  • the lowest level of ultraviolet radiation that increases skin damage markers
  • how much vitamin D is made


Studies are looking for genetic changes that might cause skin cancer.

Researchers are collecting blood and tissue samples from people with melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer of the head and neck. They want to identify changes in genes that may have caused the cancer. They also want to find out how the body's immune system responds to the cancer.

Research into treatment for skin cancer

Research is looking into targeted cancer drugs (biological therapies) for skin cancer. Different biological treatments work in different ways. For example, they can change the way cells signal to each other. Or they can stimulate the body to attack or control cancer cells. 

Two drugs that have been looked at are:

Pazopanib is a type of cancer growth blocker. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow. The UKMCC-01 trial looked at pazopanib for a rare type of skin cancer called merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) that's spread.

This trial is closed and we’re waiting for the results.

LDE225 blocks a specific protein that stops cancer cells from sending growth signals. Researchers looked at LDE225 in the BOLT trial. It was for people with  basal cell cancer (BCC) that haD spread and who couldn't have surgery or radiotherapy. They hoped it would stop the BCC growing, or shrink it.

This trial is closed and we are waiting for the results.

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