Psoriasis PUVA Treatment Can Increase Melanoma Risk
Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Psoriasis is a chronic disorder of the skin characterized by reddish, scaly patches of inflammation, most commonly affecting the elbows, knees, scalp, and/or groin. Psoriasis can be mild or severe. When it is severe, it can adversely affect functions of daily living including work and social activities.
Psoriasis has been reported to affect approximately 2% of the world's population.
The treatment of psoriasis depends on its severity and location. Treatments range from local (cortisone cream application, emollients, coal tar, anthralin preparations, and sun exposure) to systemic (internal medications, including methotrexateand cyclosporine).
PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet A radiation) treatment has been used for decades to treat severe psoriasis. In this "combination" therapy, the psoralen, taken internally, acts as a skin sensitizer. The "sensitized" skin affected by psoriasis can then be treated by ultraviolet A radiation.