Skin Cancer and Ageing - Amaya Viros

Amaya obtained her degree in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Barcelona. She completed her training as a dermatologist and venereologist at Vall d’Hebrón University Hospital, Spain. She then obtained a Fulbright Scholarship to become a Fellow in the Department of Dermatology and Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco, in the laboratory of Boris Bastian. She then moved to Richard Marais’ laboratory, first to the Institute of Cancer Research and then at the CRUK Manchester Institute where she obtained a PhD. Amaya has combined her research with clinical work as a dermatologist at St. George’s Hospital in London, and Salford Royal Foundation Trust in Manchester. Her research has focused on the mechanisms driving secondary keratinocytic tumours in metastatic melanoma patients treated with the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib, as well as on dissecting the specific contribution of ultraviolet radiation to distinct subtypes of melanoma defined by their driver oncogene. In 2016, she became a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinician Scientist Fellow and won the Wellcome-Beit Award. Her lab focuses on how ageing influences melanoma initiation and progression, and on developing rationales of adjuvant care for patients at high risk for melanoma progression.


Cancer is more common in elderly patients and melanoma incidence continues to rise predominantly in this population. More than 80% of melanoma deaths occur in patients who are older than 50 years of age, and mortality is specifically increasing in the elderly. Older patients are more likely to suffer from multiple melanocytic and non-melanocytic skin cancers.

Age-specific melanoma mortality rates
Data prepared by CRUK

Melanomas in the elderly more frequently present as aggressive primary lesions, thick primary tumours that predominantly comprise the high-risk primary melanoma stages (Stage IIB-IIC). The overall survival for stage IIB-IIC patients of all ages at 5 years is 60% and 45%, respectively, despite being localised to the skin and non-metastatic at diagnosis. There is a gradual decline in 5-year survival with increasing decades of life, with an almost 20% decrease from ages 60 to 69, to ages greater than 80 years. Additional characteristics of poor prognosis, such as ulceration and elevated mitotic rate, are also more common in the elderly.

However, even after taking the main prognostic factors into account there is a survival discrepancy between elderly and young patients, and age is the strongest independent adverse prognostic factor together with tumour thickness.

Understanding the mechanisms that drive poor outcome in the elderly represents a critical current problem in melanoma care. We focus our research on understanding the changes in aged skin that promote melanoma and the biology of aggressive disease affecting the elderly, in order to identify new strategies of adjuvant therapy.

Selected Publications 


Martin-Gorgojo A, Llinares M, Virós A, Requena C, Garcia-Casado Z, Traves V, Kumar R, Nagore E. (2017)
Cutaneous melanoma primary site is linked to nevus density.
Oncotarget 8(58):98876-98886. PubMed abstract

Girotti MR, Gremel G, Lee R, Galvani E, Rothwell D, Viros A, Mandal AK, Lim KH, Saturno G, Furney SJ, Baenke F, Pedersen M, Rogan J, Swan J, Smith M, Fusi A, Oudit D, Dhomen N, Brady G, Lorigan P, Dive C, Marais R. (2016)
Application of sequencing, liquid biopsies and patient-derived xenografts for personalized medicine in melanoma.
Cancer Discovery 6(3):286-99. PubMed abstract

Hirata E, Girotti MR, Viros A, Hooper S, Spencer-Dene B, Matsuda M, Larkin J, Marais R, Sahai E. (2015)
Intravital imaging reveals how BRAF inhibition generates drug-tolerant microenvironments with high integrin β1/FAK signaling.
Cancer Cell 27(4):574-88. PubMed abstract

Pedersen M, Viros A, Cook M, Marais R. (2014)
(G12D) NRAS and kinase-dead BRAF cooperate to drive naevogenesis and melanomagenesis.
Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 27(6):1162-6. PubMed

Viros A, Sanchez-Laorden B, Pedersen M, Furney SJ, Rae J, Hogan K, Ejiama S, Girotti MR, Dhomen N, Marais R. (2014)
Ultraviolet radiation accelerates BRAF-driven melanomagenesis by targeting TP53.
511(7510):478-82. PubMed abstract

Sanchez-Laorden B, Viros A, Girotti MR, Marais R. (2014)
BRAF inhibitors induce metastasis in RAS mutant or inhibitor-resistant melanoma cells by reactivating MEK and ERK signaling.
Science Signaling 7(318):ra30. PubMed abstract

Girotti MR, Pedersen M, Sanchez-Laorden B, Viros A, Turajlic S, Niculescu-Duvaz D, Zambon A, Sinclair J, Hayes A, Gore M, Lorigan P, Springer CJ, Larkin J, Jorgensen C, Marais R. (2013)
Inhibiting EGF receptor or SRC family kinase signaling overcomes BRAF inhibitor resistance in melanoma.
Cancer Discovery 3(2):158-67. PubMed abstract

Pdersen M, Küsters-Vandevelde HV, Viros A, Groenen PJ, Sanchez-Laorden B, Gilhuis JH, van Engen-van Grunsven IA, Renier W, Schieving J, Niculescu-Duvaz I, Springer CJ, Küsters B, Wesseling P, Blokx WA, Marais R. (2013)
Primary melanoma of the CNS in children is driven by congenital expression of oncogenic NRAS in melanocytes.
Cancer Discovery 3(4):458-69. PubMed abstract

Viros A, Hayward R, Martin M, Yashar S, Yu CC, Sanchez-Laorden B, Zambon A, Niculescu-Duvaz D, Springer C, Lo RS and Marais R. (2013)
Topical 5-fluorouracil elicits regressions of BRAF inhibitor-induced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
Journal of Investigative Dermatology 133(1):274-6. PubMed

Su F, Viros A, Milagre C, Trunzer K, Bollag G, Spleiss O, Reis-Filho JS, Kong X, Koya RC, Flaherty KT, Chapman PB, Kim MJ, Hayward R, Martin M, Yang H, Wang Q, Hilton H, Hang JS, Noe J, Lambros M, Geyer F, Dhomen N, Niculescu-Duvaz I, Zambon A, Niculescu-Duvaz D, Preece N, Robert L, Otte NJ, Mok S, Kee D, Ma Y, Zhang C, Habets G, Burton EA, Wong B, Nguyen H, Kockx M, Andries L, Lestini B, Nolop KB, Lee RJ, Joe AK, Troy JL, Gonzalez R, Hutson TE, Puzanov I, Chmielowski B, Springer CJ, McArthur GA, Sosman JA, Lo RS, Ribas A, Marais R. (2012)
RAS mutations in cutaneous squamous-cell carcinomas in patients treated with BRAF inhibitors.
New England Journal of Medicine 366(3):207-15. PubMed abstract

Viros A, Fridlyand J, Bauer J, Lasithiotakis K, Garbe C, Pinkel D, Bastian BC. (2008)
Improving melanoma classification by integrating genetic and morphologic features.
PLoS Medicine 5(6):e120. PubMed abstract



Postdoctoral Fellow
Katharina Röck

Clinical Fellow
Sarah Craig

Related Items

Skin Cancer and Ageing - Projects

Related Links

Download our Annual Report