Skin Cancer – A Sign of More Problems to Come?

Getting any form of cancer is not a picnic, to say the least. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Making matters worse is that skin cancer could signal serious future health problems.

From the Skin to the Body

According to a 2018 study, those repeatedly diagnosed with skin cancer face a greater risk of developing other forms of cancer. In describing the report’s conclusions, senior author Dr. Kavita Sarin stated that “this study shows that when people have frequent basal cell carcinomas, they also have an increased risk of internal cancers — which hasn’t been seen before.” While highly treatable, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a common occurrence in the United States; it is estimated that three million people Americans develop this condition each year.

The authors found that breast, colon, prostate and blood cancers were more likely to appear in study participants who had suffered six or more bouts of BCC over a ten year span. Specifically, when compared to their healthier peers, this group was three to six times as likely to fall victim to other forms of cancer.

These findings were based on DNA samples collected from 61 participants. Each one of these individuals had been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on multiple occasions.

Looking at Genes

Upon reviewing this DNA, the authors found that one-fifth had certain genetic mutations, resulting in a greater risk of abnormal cell growth. Among the mutations identified involved the BRCA genes, which if allowed to grow unchecked can lead to breast and ovarian cancers. This 20 percent figure, noted Sarin, was much higher than what is normally found among the American population, where the prevalence of such mutations is a mere three percent.

Fortunately, the study authors note that the connection between skin cancer and other forms of cancer was present only among those with several BCC diagnoses. The journal JCI Insight published the report in August 2018.

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