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Rare, aggressive skin cancer prognosis linked to vitamin D deficiency

Posted on: March 26, 2013   by  John Cannell, MD


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare and highly aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer, which in some people is associated with a virus Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). The presence of high levels of antibodies against MCV virus have been reported to be associated with better clinical outcomes, however, despite the antibodies, MCC usually spreads or metastasizes. The prevalence of antibodies to MCV is around 85% in the general population, meaning that the vast majority of people with MCV never get MCC.  Thus, only a slight percentage of those infected with MCV develop MCC, suggesting that other factors govern its development.

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4 Responses to Rare, aggressive skin cancer prognosis linked to vitamin D deficiency

  1. Rita and Misty

    “The vitamin D receptor (VDR) was detected in all MCC samples, indicating the MCC tumors had not destroyed the VDR as some other cancers do.”

    ….which (I am guessing) would mean that at least in theory, MCC tumors might be controlled by large doses of Vitamin D….just as certain types of prostate cancer….

    “Larger prospective studies are necessary to confirm a link between vitamin D status and MCC characteristics and prognosis.”

    …well, if I had MCC, I certainly wouldn’t wait for these larger prospective studies….

    BTW–I prefer to keep my level at the higher end of optimal…. 🙂

  2. hlahore@gmail.com

    “destroyed the VDR as some other cancers do”
    Which cancers destroy VDR?

  3. Rita and Misty


    I must preface my below statement with a reminder that I am not a physician nor am I a medical researcher. I am someone who is simply fanatical about learning….

    I think that perhaps many cancerous cells, as they progress, lose their ability to synthesize the active form of Vitamin D and respond to VDR-mediated Vitamin D effects, while also increasing their ability to degrade this hormone.

    (hope my above statement makes sense to others here…and I am certainly open to correction…I don’t know everything…imo)



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