Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Exposure to Ruxolitinib and Risk of Skin Cancer: Is There a Connection?

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2021

Patients with polycythemia or myelofibrosis taking ruxolitinib may be at increased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma, according to 10-year retrospective study findings presented in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Anne Lynn S. Chang, MD, of Stanford University School of Medicine, Redwood City, California, and colleagues suggest that patients receiving ruxolitinib see a dermatologist for skin cancer screening and surveillance within months of starting treatment with the kinase inhibitor.

“Additional future research efforts include partnering with our hematology/oncology colleagues to suggest referral to dermatology within 12 weeks of ruxolitinib initiation, patient education efforts to distribute brief written leaflets explaining the potential increased risk of skin cancer to polycythemia or myelofibrosis patients who start ruxolitinib, and to explain basic measures for photoprotection to potentially prevent skin cancer,” the authors concluded.

In this study, the authors identified 564 patients at the Stanford Medical Center who were diagnosed with polycythemia or myelofibrosis. Of those patients, 188 were exposed to ruxolitinib for at least 4 weeks; the remaining 376 were not exposed to ruxolitinib.

The patients exposed to ruxolitinib had an adjusted non-melanoma skin cancer hazard ratio of 2.69. In particular, those patients who received ruxolitinib had a higher associated risk of squamous cell carcinoma (hazard ratio = 3.24), with patients who have non–JAK2-mutated disease demonstrating an even higher risk for squamous cell carcinoma (hazard ratio = 7.40). The hazard ratio for basal cell carcinoma for those exposed to ruxolitinib was 1.60.

The authors found no statistically significant differences for patients exposed and unexposed to ruxolitinib in regard to phototherapy history and photosensitizing drug history, immunosuppressive drug history, radiation procedure history, and JAK2 mutation status.

Disclosure: For full disclosure of the study authors, visit

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