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Patients with basal cell carcinoma had a 15 percent greater risk than other people of eventually having another type of cancer, researchers found. Meanwhile, patients with squamous cell carcinoma had a 26 percent increased risk.
In conducting the new study, researchers led by Dr. Jiali Han, an associate professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, examined two large U.S. studies involving more than 51,000 male health professionals and nearly 122,000 female nurses. Among white participants, researchers identified more than 36,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and more than 29,000 new cases of other forms of cancer.
Although the study found an association between having non-melanoma skin cancer and future risk for other cancers, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
"This prospective study found a modestly increased risk of subsequent [cancers] among individuals with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer, specifically breast and lung cancer in women and melanoma in both men and women," the study authors wrote. "Because our study was observational, these results should be interpreted cautiously and are insufficient evidence to alter current clinical recommendations."
The researchers concluded that more research is needed to investigate the link between skin cancer and other forms of cancer.
The study appeared April 23 in the journal PLoS Medicine.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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