Squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most-common form of skin cancer. Evidence suggests the human papilloma virus plays a role in the development of some types of this skin cancer.
Two years ago, a 97-year-old woman whose right leg was covered with squamous cell tumors went to see dermatologist Anna Nichols, M.D., Ph.D., at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Surgery is the standard of care for most patients with skin cancer.
“She was not a candidate for surgery because of the sheer number and size of her tumors. She wasn’t a candidate for radiotherapy, again for the same reasons,” said Dr. Nichols, an assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, whose report on this case was published online July 3 in JAMA Dermatology.
In 2017, a case report by Dr. Nichols showed the HPV vaccine Gardasil reduced the number of new basal and squamous cell skin cancers in two patients. Tim Ioannides, M.D., a voluntary faculty member at UM, suggested using the vaccine as an off-label treatment by directly injecting it into the tumors.
Since her patient had no other options, Dr. Nichols offered her the treatment. It is considered an “off-label” use because Gardasil is only
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