Parkinson's and Melanoma

Parkinson's disease patients have a lower risk of developing most cancers but a higher risk of developing melanoma

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

(RxWiki News) Michael J. Fox Foundation has an urgent mission to raise money, find a cure and provide support for Parkinson's disease patients. It's as if the foundation has taken on Michael's philosophy in life.

"I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business", he said.  Excellent indeed is the goal of his foundation.

A recent study review conducted with the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies found an increased likelihood of developing melanoma in patients with Parkinson's disease.

"Parkinson's disease patients are at increased risk of melanoma."

Study author Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology reports there have been many past studies linking Parkinson's disease with melanoma, but they have been largely inconclusive.

This new study bundled results from 12 different studies dating from 1965 to 2010. Of these 12 studies, there were usually less than 10 patients with both Parkinson's disease and melanoma.

Chen points out that Parkinson's patients, as a general rule, have a lower incidence of most cancers than the general population. That is not the case, however, with melanoma. He surmises that there may be a genetic link between the two conditions or perhaps the same environmental risk factors.

Chen concludes saying these are early, preliminary findings.

After reviewing the studies, it was found that men with Parkinson's disease were twice as likely to have melanoma than men who did not have Parkinson's disease, while women with Parkinson's disease were 1.5 times more likely to have melanoma than women who did not have Parkinson's disease.

These results only apply to melanoma as the study found no real link between Parkinson's and non-melanoma skin cancer.

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Review Date: 
June 7, 2011
Last Updated:
June 15, 2011