Men With Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer History May Have Reduced Risk of Death From Melanoma

Key Points

  • Among all participants, the risk for development of either lethal or nonlethal invasive cutaneous melanoma increased for those with a history of keratinocyte carcinoma, a type of NMSC.
  • The risk for death due to melanoma based on keratinocyte carcinoma history was not significantly increased.
  • Those with a history of keratinocyte carcinoma had a significantly lower risk for death due to melanoma than those with no such history.

Skin cancer survivors know firsthand that the disease is most treatable when detected early, so they’re more likely to be vigilant about skin exams—and new research shows that such vigilance pays off. After studying more than 900 cases of melanoma reported through the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, researchers found that men with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) were less likely to die of melanoma than those without an NMSC history. The research, led by Jiali Han, PhD, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD).

“Our results highlight the impact of early detection on skin cancer survival,” said Steven T. Chen, MD, MPH, FAAD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the study. “Because people who have been diagnosed with skin cancer are more likely to see a dermatologist for regular skin exams, any future skin cancers they may develop are more likely to be caught early, when they’re most treatable.”

Findings

Researchers found a total of 908 participants with invasive cutaneous melanoma over a total of 0.7 million person-years of follow-up. Among all participants, the risk for development of either lethal or nonlethal invasive cutaneous melanoma increased for those with a history of keratinocyte carcinoma, a type of NMSC. The risk for death due to melanoma based on keratinocyte carcinoma history was not significantly increased, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.53 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95–2.46). In the case-only analysis, those with a history of keratinocyte carcinoma had a significantly lower risk for death due to melanoma than those with no such history (HR = 0.60; 95% CI = 0.35–0.94).

Commentary

“Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing one person every hour, so it’s great that NMSC survivors understand the importance of early detection,” said board-certified dermatologist Suzanne M. Olbricht, MD, FAAD, President of the American Academy of Dermatology. “However, regular skin self-exams are a habit that everyone, regardless of medical history, should adopt.”

In conjunction with Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May, the AAD has released a new public service advertisement, Caught It,” which encourages men over 50 to be aware of changes on their skin so they can detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable. “Men over 50 have an increased risk of developing melanoma, so we hope this PSA reminds them to keep a close eye on their skin,” Dr. Olbricht concluded.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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