MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that
cancer survivors are at increased risk for cutaneous melanoma, one
of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer. The highest risk is
among those previously diagnosed with melanoma.
Cutaneous melanoma is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer
in U.S. men and the seventh most commonly diagnosed cancer in U.S.
women. Incidence of the cancer is increasing, and death rates from
the disease have decreased little, despite survival gains for other
types of cancer, according to background information in the
Ultraviolet radiation exposure is the greatest risk factor for
cutaneous melanoma, but race and genetics also influence the
In this study, researchers analyzed data from about 70,800 U.S.
patients who were diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma as a first
primary cancer (median age of 54 at time of diagnosis) and 6,353
patients who were diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma (average age of
70 at time of diagnosis) after surviving a previous cancer.
Patients with a previous melanoma diagnosis were more likely to
develop cutaneous melanoma, said Geoffrey B. Yang, a medical
student at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, in Cleveland,
Among patients younger than 45 at first cancer diagnosis, 777
developed cutaneous melanoma. Those at significantly higher risk
included those previously diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma or
other skin cancers, Kaposi sarcoma, breast cancer or lymphoma.
Among patients who were 45 or older at first cancer diagnosis,
the risk of developing cutaneous melanoma was much higher among
those previously diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma or other skin
cancers, ocular melanoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma
"Characteristics associated with better survival in both (groups) included female sex, age younger than 45 years at melanoma diagnosis, being married, being white vs. black, decreasing Breslow depth [how deeply tumor cells have invaded], lack of tumor ulceration, no nodal involvement, and absence of metastases [the spread of cancer from the primary tumor to other locations in the body]," the researchers wrote in a journal news release.
The results suggest the need for continued skin surveillance in
melanoma survivors, they concluded.
The study appears in the December issue of the journal
Archives of Dermatology.
Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New
York City, said that people tend to think of melanoma "as
'lightening doesn't strike twice,' but unfortunately, there are
both genetic and environmental reasons which make this a faulty
comparison. A history of malignant melanoma makes you at an
increased risk for a second primary melanoma and [you] definitely
need constant monitoring.
"This risk remains elevated for over 15 years. This was a very important study which illustrated what I have seen in private practice over the past 20 years," she added.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
melanoma and other skin cancers.