Skin cancer stem cells

Skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma) have been the fastest growing types of cancer, and numbers are continuing to increase in the U.K. In 2010 there were over 100,000 skin cancers diagnosed in the UK. Wales has the highest incidence of all three skin cancers per population in the UK.

95% of all skin cancers are managed by dermatologists in Wales. Early diagnosis and surgical management of skin cancer is often curative. Thus skin cancers are also model tumours for the study of cancer stem cell biology since fresh human tumour tissue is readily accessible, their biology is similar to other malignancies, and that DNA mutations that give rise to these cancers can be characterised by a UV signature. We have developed both in vivo and in vitro assays leading to the identification of cancer stem cell populations in human basal cell carcinoma and human squamous cell carcinoma.

Dr Patel's group are currently exploring the origin and evolution of cancer stem cells in primary and metastatic skin cancers and their role in disease recurrences.