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Skin Cancer Among Childhood Cancer Survivors

By: Melissa E. Fryman, MS
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, childhood cancer survivors who received radiation therapy may be at high risk for developing basal cell carcinomas. Whereas previous studies focused on crude indicators of radiotherapy (any vs. none), Jop C. Teepen, PhD, of the Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, The Netherlands, and colleagues are reportedly the first to examine associations between radiation dose, skin exposure, and/or chemotherapy and subsequent basal cell carcinoma in this patient population.

“Health professionals who take care of [childhood cancer survivors] should be trained by dermatology experts to recognize suspicious skin lesions, and survivors who received radiotherapy should be educated to be alert for local skin changes in order to timely seek medical attention for skin lesions that may be potentially malignant,” concluded the authors.

In this Dutch cohort study, a total of 5,843 childhood cancer survivors who had received ionizing radiation treatments were followed until the date of first skin cancer, death, or study end. Of these survivors, 259 developed 1,061 basal cell carcinomas (a 30-fold increase in risk compared with the general population), 20 developed melanoma (a 2-fold increase), and 10 developed squamous cell carcinoma (a 7-fold increase). Individuals who developed a single basal cell carcinoma were 46.7% more likely to develop additional basal cell carcinomas. Compared with the general population, those with childhood cancer developed basal cell carcinoma at a rate of 19.1% versus 0.6%.

Among the various chemotherapy agents examined, a tenuous association was seen with the use of vinca alkaloids. No association between prescribed radiation dose and the risk of basal cell carcinoma was found.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at academic.oup.com.



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