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Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is the second most common skin cancer. In immunosuppressed populations it is a source of considerable morbidity and mortality due to its enhanced recurrence and metastatic potential. In common with many malignancies, leucocyte populations are both protective against cancer development and also play a role in ‘sculpting’ the nascent tumor, leading to loss of immunogenicity and tumor progression. UV radiation and chronic viral carriage may represent unique risk factors for cSCC development, and the immune system plays a key role in modulating the response to both. In this review, we discuss the lessons learned from animal and ex vivo human studies of the role of individual leucocyte subpopulations in the development of cutaneous SCC. We then discuss the insights into cSCC immunity gleaned from studies in humans, particularly in populations receiving pharmacological immunosuppression such as transplant recipients. Similar insights in other malignancies have led to exciting and novel immune therapies, which are beginning to emerge into the cSCC clinical arena.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Molecular Sciences



Publication Date





2009 - 2009