Psoriasis and Skin Cancer

Dermatologist examining patient for signs of skin cancerThe autoimmune skin disease called psoriasis tends to be associated with other health concerns, including diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Unfortunately, yet another disease is being added to this list: melanoma.

Early research investigating the potential link between psoriasis and skin cancer were unclear as to whether the psoriasis or the treatment for psoriasis affected the risk of skin cancer. Further research – based on nearly 816,000 patients – has clarified this relationship and determined that psoriasis treatment was in no way related to melanoma. However, patients with psoriasis did experience a 1.53-fold greater risk of developing melanoma or a hematologic cancer when compared to individuals without psoriasis.

Although this study did take biologic medications off the hook in terms of any risk of skin cancer, it is still unfortunate that those with psoriasis remain at increased risk of melanoma. Current theories point to the inflammation of psoriasis as the contributor to skin cancer, since chronic inflammation is a known cancer instigator.

There are steps anyone can take to lower the risk of skin cancer such as: using sunscreen diligently, staying out of the sun during peak hours, never using tanning beds, and checking skin for any suspicious moles.

Sources

Reddy SP, Martires K, Wu JJ. The risk of melanoma and hematologic cancers in patients with psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol 2016 Nov 19 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2016.09.047. PMID: 27876302

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