Research News

Slightly higher risk of another cancer after a first non-melanoma skin cancer

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 01 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2715

White men and women with non-melanoma skin cancers have a slightly increased risk of subsequently developing other cancers. Analyses of two long running cohorts from the US report an overall relative risk of 1.11 (95% CI 1.05 to 1.18) for men and 1.20 (1.15 to 1.25) for women during more than 20 years of follow-up. These figures exclude melanomas from the count of second cancers.

The new study confirms and fine tunes previous work linking non-melanoma skin cancers with later and more serious disease. The authors did a series of analyses accounting for dozens of confounding factors including smoking and exposure to ultraviolet radiation. They studied 46 237 male health professionals and 107 339 female nurses who developed almost 30 000 new cancers during follow-up.

People with non-melanoma skin cancers still have a low absolute risk of a second primary, say the authors (176/100 000 person years for men; 182/100 000 person years for women), so there’s no need for active surveillance yet. Despite their size, the new analyses weren’t powerful enough for confident conclusions about individual cancer types in men. Women with non-melanoma skin cancers had a significantly higher risk of later breast cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma. Again, absolute risks for individuals were low.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2715