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Melanoma Mortality Risk and Nonmelanoma Cancer History: Is There a Connection?

By: Julian Lim
Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Previous studies have suggested that patients with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer (keratinocyte carcinoma) are at a higher risk for invasive cutaneous melanoma. A new study, conducted by Jiali Han, PhD, of Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University, Indianapolis, and colleagues, also found that to be true. However, Dr. Han and colleagues also revealed that the risk of death due to melanoma was not significantly increased among those with a history of keratinocyte carcinoma. In fact, these patients had a lower risk of death than those with no such history.

“Once a patient has keratinocyte carcinoma, [he or she is] more likely to undergo serial skin examinations with a dermatologist, making the diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma not only more likely but also more likely to be made earlier,” noted the investigators, whose study findings were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The current study was based on the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, with a focus on 908 male participants with invasive cutaneous melanoma between the ages of 40 and 75. The investigators found that based on the history of keratinocyte carcinoma, the risk for death due to melanoma was not significantly increased; the hazard ratio was 1.53. In a secondary analysis, those with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer had a significantly lower risk for death due to melanoma than those without such a history; the hazard ratio was 0.60.

Dr. Han and colleagues offered a few words of caution regarding their findings. First, they may not be applicable to the entire population, as the study group consisted solely of male health professionals. Second, the population was studied from 1986 to 2012, before the recent advances in the treatment of metastatic melanoma. “Further studies are warranted to investigate the mechanism underlying this inverse association,” they concluded.

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