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Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Tied to Risk for Other Cancers

TUESDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- White people with skin cancer that is not melanoma may be at greater risk for developing other forms of cancer, according to a new study.

Patients with basal cell carcinoma had a 15 percent greater risk than other people of eventually having another type of cancer, researchers found. Meanwhile, patients with squamous cell carcinoma had a 26 percent increased risk.

Although melanoma is more deadly, it is much less common than other types of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

In conducting the new study, researchers led by Dr. Jiali Han, an associate professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, examined two large U.S. studies involving more than 51,000 male health professionals and nearly 122,000 female nurses. Among white participants, researchers identified more than 36,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and more than 29,000 new cases of other forms of cancer.

When considering only non-melanoma skin cancers, the researchers found men with skin cancer had an 11 percent greater risk for other types of cancer. Women had a 20 percent higher risk.

More specifically, the study revealed women with non-melanoma skin cancer were at greater risk for melanoma, as well as breast and lung cancers. Men were at increased risk for melanoma.

Although the study found an association between having non-melanoma skin cancer and future risk for other cancers, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

"This prospective study found a modestly increased risk of subsequent [cancers] among individuals with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer, specifically breast and lung cancer in women and melanoma in both men and women," the study authors wrote. "Because our study was observational, these results should be interpreted cautiously and are insufficient evidence to alter current clinical recommendations."

The researchers concluded that more research is needed to investigate the link between skin cancer and other forms of cancer.

The study appeared April 23 in the journal PLoS Medicine.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about skin cancer.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: PLoS Medicine, news release, April 23, 2013

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