Those patients that are affected by non-melanoma skin cancer are more likely to develop other types of cancers later in life. Non-melanoma is a non-fatal form of skin cancer. It is known to increase the melanoma risk, but it has never been linked to other types of cancers than skin cancer.
A team of researchers from Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston looked at the data from a 16-year long study involving Washington County, Maryland residents. Researchers measured and compared the cancer risk of 769 participants with non-melanoma skin cancer and 18,405 cancer free participants.
Researchers found that those patients with non-melanoma skin cancer are more likely to develop other forms of cancers. The risk is even higher when non-melanoma cancer occurs in younger ages: those who contract the disease at ages from 25 to 44 are 2.6 times more likely to develop other types of cancers. By saying other types of cancers researchers mention lung, colon and breast cancers.
Prostate cancer risk was also linked to non-melanoma skin cancer, but the link was not strong and not statistically significant.
Researchers suggest that non-melanoma skin cancer occurs because DNA damage repair process is weakened, this is why skin cells, which are damaged because of ultraviolet sun rays, are hard to recover. This theory may easily apply to other cancers because those with difficulties in repairing DNA damage may suffer other cancers as well.
Another theory is that patients with non-melanoma skin cancer are receiving regular check-ups and are visiting doctors regularly, so they can be diagnosed earlier than others. People sometimes avoid to visit a doctor and they may have an undiagnosed disease, they may ignore less annoying symptoms and don't get diagnosed early.
Non-melanoma skin cancer has never been considered as dangerous disease, but this research urges that the disease deserves more attention. Even though the study is still small and further research needs to be done to come up with recommendations about non-melanoma skin cancer, researchers suggest that anyone with the disease must tell his or her doctor about it as soon as possible.