Cancer Survivors at Greater Risk of Melanoma

Cutaneous melanoma risks increase following certain cancers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cancer patients and survivors just can't get a break it seems. Now, they have another increased risk to live with, according to newly published research.

People who have been diagnosed with cancer have a greater risk of developing an aggressive form of skin cancer - cutaneous melanoma. People who have previously been diagnosed with melanoma carry the greatest risk.

"If you've had cancer, protecting your skin from the sun is especially important."

Analyzing 1988-2007 data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, Geoffrey B. Yang, B.S., a medical student at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio and colleagues sought to understand cancer survivors' risk of CM.

Participants included two groups: 70,819 patients who had been diagnosed with CM as a first primary cancer and 6,353 cancer survivors with CM. The first group had a median age of 54 years at the time of diagnosis, and the cancer survivors were about 70 years old when they were diagnosed with melanoma.

Here's what the study uncovered:

  • Among patients who were under the age of 45 when they were first diagnosed with cancer, 777 developed CM.
  • Risks in this group were found to be highest among those who had previously been diagnosed with CM, other skin cancers, Kaposi sarcoma, lymphoma and female breast cancer.
  • Survivors who were older than 45 at the time of their first cancer diagnosis, had the greatest risks of CM following a previous diagnosis of CM, other skin cancers, ocular (eye) melanoma, female breast cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma and leukemia.

One of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer, cutaneous melanoma (CM) ranks among the top five and seven cancers diagnosed in men and women respectively. Cases of this cancer are increasing, and death rates from it are remaining steady. Exposure to the sun's UV rays is the greatest risk factor.

This research was reported in the December issue of the Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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Review Date: 
December 19, 2011
Last Updated:
December 19, 2011