Melanoma May Be Linked to Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer patients may have increased risks of melanoma

November 4, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) An interesting fact: severe acne is linked to higher male hormone (androgen) activity. And previous research has suggested that severe teenage acne may be a risk factor for both prostate cancer and melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

Men with a history of prostate cancer may have increased risks of developing melanoma, according to a new study.

This association is not clearly understood, but may have to do with the increased androgen activity involved in both diseases, the researchers suggested.

"Talk to your physician about melanoma screening."

Wen-Qing Li, PhD, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, MD, directed this research to assess potential links between prostate cancer and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in American men.

In the study’s background, the researchers discussed how a history of severe acne has been associated with an increased risk of both prostate cancer and melanoma because the diseases are thought to be related to higher androgen, including testosterone, activity.

Prostate cancer is known to be linked to higher androgen activity.

“Severe acne, a surrogate for androgen activity, has been positively associated with prostate cancer risk. Skin is a major target of androgens, and melanoma has been proposed to be associated with androgen levels,” the researchers wrote.

For this study, the researchers reviewed data from 42,372 participants in the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study (HPFS) conducted between 1986 and 2010, in which male health professionals completed detailed medical history surveys every other year.

The findings from this data analysis were then confirmed with a review of data from the 18,603 male participants who were observed annually in the Physicians’ Health Study conducted from 1982 to 1998.

The researchers identified 539 cases of melanoma in the HPFS study.

They found that men with a personal history of prostate cancer had an 83 percent greater risk of developing melanoma than men with no history of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer patients also were found to have a slight (8 percent) increased risk of NMSC compared to cancer-free men.

The link between prostate cancer and melanoma was confirmed in the review of PHS data. Men who had been treated for prostate cancer had a 2.12 times higher risk of developing melanoma than men who had never been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The authors concluded, “… [W]e suggest an association between a diagnosis of prostate cancer and risk of subsequent melanoma in white men, which may not be entirely a result of greater medical scrutiny.”

S. Adam Ramin, MD, a urologic surgeon and founder of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles, told dailyRx News that while the cause for the association between the diseases is not yet clear, “it may be related to higher androgen levels leading to higher chances of developing both types of cancers.”

Dr. Ramin said, “It is important that doctors who treat prostate cancer be aware of this association and refer these patients for melanoma screening. It is also important that men with prostate cancer speak with their doctors about undergoing melanoma screening on a yearly basis."

Findings from this study were published November 4 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The current analysis was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Cancer Institute and the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
November 4, 2013
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014