It is well known that melanoma patients are at risk of suffering from other cancers, like pancreas and breast cancer. Moreover, a previous diagnosis of skin cancer, melanoma or nonmelanoma, increases the risk of acquiring cutaneous melanoma (CM). Dr. Geoffrey B. Yang and collaborators have just published a very interesting paper in the Archives of Dermatology analyzing the risk of CM following a previous cancer.
Yang GB, Barnholtz-Sloan JS, Chen Y, Bordeaux JS.
Arch Dermatol. 2011 Dec;147(12):1395-402. PMID: 22184761
By means of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database (1988-2007) the authors calculated the relative risk (RR) for development of primary CM in 70819 patients suffering from CM as first primary cancer, and in 6353 patients diagnosed CM subsequent to a previous cancer.
Probably, the most interesting results Dr. Geoffrey B. Yang et al report in their paper are the following:
- Patients with any initial cancer diagnosis and younger than 45 years were at an overall 192% increased risk for developing CM, and those 45 years or older at an overall 36% increased risk .
- The risk for subsequent melanoma in melanoma survivors was significantly elevated throughout the study period. In fact, CM was the most common second primary cancer in patients with a first CM.
This is a large-scale study backed up by a high quality database and it deserves to be read in detail. Based on their findings the authors confirm the need to perform periodic skin evaluations in patients suffering from melanoma. Undoubtedly, this is an important point in the current times of limited resources. Moreover, the authors remind us that there is an increased risk of CM in cancer survivors, a group of patients in which primary and secondary prevention should also be stressed.