Melanoma More Common in Cancer Survivors

Posted on January 2nd, 2012 by

People with a history of certain types of cancer may be at increased risk of melanoma—an aggressive form of skin cancer. These results were published in the Archives of Dermatology.

Of the more than one million new diagnoses of skin cancer each year, roughly 68,000 involve melanoma. More than 8,000 people die of melanoma each year in the United States. What makes melanoma so dangerous is that it is more likely than other types of skin cancer to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Factors that increase the likelihood of developing melanoma include sun exposure and fair skin. To explore whether people with a history of cancer are more likely to develop melanoma, researchers collected information from a large US cancer database (the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database).

  • Having an initial diagnosis of melanoma before the age of 45 increased the risk of a subsequent diagnosis of melanoma by almost 12 times. Certain other cancer diagnoses before the age of 45 were linked with a smaller increase in melanoma risk. These other cancers were nonepithelial skin cancer, Kaposi sarcoma, female breast cancer, and lymphoma.
  • Having an initial diagnosis of melanoma after the age of 45 increased the risk of a subsequent diagnosis of melanoma by more than 8 times. Other cancers that were linked with a smaller increase in melanoma risk were nonepithelial skin cancer, ocular melanoma, female breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.

These results suggest that certain groups of cancer survivors may be at increased risk of melanoma. Risk of melanoma is particularly high for people who have already had a first diagnosis of melanoma, highlighting the importance of ongoing skin surveillance in this group.

Reference: Yang GB, Barnholtz-Sloan JS, Chen Y, Bordeaux JS. Risk and survival of cutaneous melanoma diagnosed subsequent to a previous cancer. Archives of Dermatology. 2011;147:1395-1402.

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Tags: General, Health and Wellness, News, Other News Topics (not Types of Cancer)

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