Cutaneous melanoma is currently the fifth most common form of cancer for men in the United States and the seventh most common for women. It is an extremely aggressive form of skin cancer with relatively high mortality rates. While excessive UV radiation exposure is the leading cause of cutaneous melanoma, scientists have now discovered that having previously been diagnosed with cancer greatly increases one’s risk.
In order to determine the risk of cutaneous melanoma for cancer survivors, researchers for the study examined data for 70,819 individuals who had been diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma as their first cancer and 6,353 cancer survivors who had first been diagnosed with another type of cancer. They found that individuals with a primary diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma had a significantly higher chance of developing it again, while the risk of cutaneous melanoma for survivors of female breast cancer, other forms of skin cancer, lymphoma, and Kaposi sarcoma was also raised.
Researchers found that factors that increased an individual’s survival rate from cutaneous melanoma including being younger than 45 years at the initial melanoma diagnosis, being married, being white, and having a tumor that had not affected the lymph nodes or metastasized throughout the body.
Having discovered that cancer survivors have an increased risk of developing cutaneous melanoma and remain at elevated risk for at least 15 years following their primary cancer diagnosis, the researchers suggested that both doctors and cancer survivors pay close attention to their skin and continue careful surveillance for many years after their cancer remission.