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Skin Cancer History Puts Post-menopausal White Women At Risk For Melanoma

A new study appearing in the online journal Cancer says that elderly white women who have had non-melanoma skin cancer are more likely to develop full blown melanoma regardless of their exposure to the harmful rays of the sun. //

The study found that women in the age group of 50 to 79, who had a previous history of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, had a two-fold increase in the risk of developing cutaneous melanoma over 6.5 years. The study followed post-menopausal and non-Hispanic women. "This study adds a history of the relatively favorable non-melanoma skin cancer -- in and of itself -- to the list of known risk factors for melanoma in both sun lovers and shade dwellers alike," said lead author Carol A. Rosenberg, M.D., assistant professor medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Our study further defines melanoma risk in post-menopausal women and, it is hoped, will sensitize the medical community to this risk, serving as a catalyst for development of new routines of follow-up and patient assessment to facilitate earlier detection of melanoma." She added that skin surveillance among such women could prove to be life-saving in the long run.

this is indeed a vital piece of news, since 1.3 million women are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Melanoma is often very hard to treat if diagnosed in later stages since it has spread away from the initial site. "Diagnosing melanoma early is critical to saving lives," Rosenborg concluded.

Contact: Elizabeth Crown
Northwestern University

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