Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Increases Risk For Other Types Of Cancers, Up To 32 Percent

For men and women, having a history of non-melanoma types of skin cancer increases the risk of developing other types of cancer. New research finds that among people who have no history of skin cancer, the risk of breast, lung cancer and also melanoma is much lower.

The link was found by a team of researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Data was obtained and analyzed from both the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses' Health Study.

For the studies, the researchers examined 36,102 cases of people who were diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. Caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, non-melanoma cancer is the most common type of skin cancer. Scientists also looked at 29,447 cases of people diagnosed with other types of cancers, including melanoma, prostate, breast and lung cancers.

Investigating the non-melanoma cases, the risk of being diagnosed with other forms of cancer was greater. Researchers found that men with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer had a greater risk of 11 percent of developing other forms of cancers. For women with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer, the risk increases by 20 percent.

It was also found that the risk of melanoma was doubled for both men and women with a prior history of non-melanoma skin cancer. For women, the risk of breast cancer increases by 20 percent and the lung cancer risk increases by 32 percent.

"This prospective study found a modestly increased risk of subsequent [cancers] among individuals with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer, specifically breast and lung cancer in women and melanoma in both men and women. Because our study was observational, these results should be interpreted cautiously and are insufficient evidence to alter current clinical recommendations," the authors of the study wrote. Findings from the study were published in the journal PLOS Medicine

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