Increased Risk Of Melanoma After Breast Cancer?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and with 1 in 8 American women developing invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, Sanova Dermatology would like to help spread awareness about this very serious and potentially devastating condition.

“Screening is incredibly important and all women should see their physicians for regular breast exams,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, board certified dermatologist and women’s skin care specialist in Austin, Texas. “These tumors are often hard to detect, which makes mammograms, imaging studies and recognizing subtle signs of breast cancer on the skin all that much more important.”

As if the cancer wasn’t enough, breast cancer survivors should be aware of the other health risks that come with this diagnosis.

Skin Cancer-Breast Cancer Relationship?

“It’s an unfortunate truth,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, board certified dermatologist and skin cancer expert at Sanova Dermatology. “Recent studies have demonstrated patients with a history of breast cancer may also have a higher risk of developing melanoma skin cancer.”

In an epidemiological study examining over 500,000 breast cancer patients, the risk of developing melanoma was found to be increased by 29%. The highest group at risk were breast cancer survivors under age 50, who had a 46% increased risk of developing melanoma. Furthermore, patient who had received radiation therapy had a 42% increased risk of developing melanoma, even in non-radiated sites.

These observations make it pertinent for affected women to understand how to stay healthy in the sun. “Applying sunscreen frequently and at regular intervals when outdoors for extended periods of time as well as covering up with wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing can definitely help,” says Dr. Hanson. Small changes in outdoor behavior and exposure to ultraviolet light can significantly lower the chances of developing skin cancer. Quitting or minimizing any other factors that can increase cancer risk, including tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake, is also recommended.

These patients should also receive regular skin cancer screenings,” says Dr. Mamelak. An annual skin check can allow physicians to detect cancer early, even in a precancerous state, minimizing the impact of this disease on your health.

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If you are concerned about skin changes after a breast cancer diagnosis, or have a worrisome spot on your skin, please contact us today.

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