You might be familiar with skin cancer. In a state where there is abundant sunshine the likelihood of skin cancer occurrence is higher than in other places.  One such skin cancer researchers at LSU Health New Orleans are looking to eradicate is called Merkel Cell Carcinoma.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma usually starts as a red or bluish blotch or blemish on the face or neck. It is most likely to occur in older persons. Doctors believe the leading causes of Merkel Cell Carcinoma are over exposure to the sun or a weak immune system. The weak immune system angle is what researchers at LSU Health hope to explore.

Director of LSU Health New Orleans Cancer Center Dr. Augusto Ochoa says this trial will offer patients in Louisiana a different approach to treating this rare form of cancer. The treatment will involve a new immunotherapy drug.

It stimulates the patient’s own immune system to kill the tumor cells and the trial has been initiated in 11 sites in the United States, and we’re one of those sites.

If you've been diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma you might want to consult with your physician and see if this trial could be a benefit on your road to recovery. The trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, hopes to involve 50 patients among the participating sites. If you're interested in learning more or to see if you qualify contact LSU Health New Orleans at (504) 407-7395.