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Risk Factors for Cutaneous Melanoma and Previous Cancer Diagnosis [Data Analysis]

As Derm PAs and Dermatologists, we are quite aware that close to 75% of all skin cancer deaths are due to melanoma.  Did you also know that the AAD estimates one American will die every hour from melanoma?  The National Cancer Institute estimates that the cost associated with melanoma treatment in 2010 was over $2.3 billion. 
A recent study published in the Archives of Dermatology indicates that those with a previous cancer diagnosis may actually have an increased risk for developing cutaneous melanoma (CM).  
Researchers considered the survival characteristics of two different groups of patients taken from data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database (between 1988-2007).  They then analyzed the relative risks (RR) of developing CM for the patient who is diagnosed with a previous cancer.
The study considered more than 70,000 patients whose first cancer diagnosis was CM with over 6,300 patients who’d been diagnosed with CM following a previous cancer diagnosis.   
Overall, the study demonstrates that patients aged 45 years or older with a previous cancer diagnosis (RR=8.36) are at significant risk of developing CM, particularly for those initially diagnosed with non-epithelial skin cancer (RR=5.34).  For patients younger than 45 years old when first diagnosed with cancer, their risk of developing CM following previous CM is quite high (RR=11.89).
The researchers conclude that: “Given that cutaneous melanoma is the most common second primary cancer in patients with a first CM (a risk that remains elevated for over 15 years), our results suggest the need for continued skin surveillance in melanoma survivors.”
Sources: Archives of Dermatology Clinical AdvisorAAD 
[image by jfcherry]

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