What is the Link Between Breast Cancer and Dermatology?

melanoma link to cancer is dermatology - advanced dermatology associates
melanoma link to cancer is dermatology – advanced dermatology associates

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States has a chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. You may be wondering “But what does breast cancer have to do with dermatology?”

As a matter of fact, there is a direct correlation between breast cancer and melanoma. For many years, there has been only speculation as to why the two cancers are linked.

According to a study by the Irish Journal of Medical Science, there is a strong association between breast cancer and melanoma.  Women with breast cancer have an increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and women with melanoma are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer.

“In general, patients with melanoma or other skin cancers are always at higher risk of developing other malignancies,” Dr. Murphy commented. “But this is about a fourfold increase, which raises the possibility of a genetic predisposition linking the two cancers.”

The four-fold increase gives a greater likelihood of the two cancers being linked by a genetic predisposition. Additionally, it is found that women under 50 with breast cancer are at a higher risk of melanoma as are breast cancer patients who have been treated with External Radiation Therapy

The Irish Journal of Medical Science study corroborates the findings of journals such as Annals of Oncology and Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, which reported that breast cancer patients have between 1.4 and 2.7 times the risk of developing melanoma. In addition, The International Journal of Cancer noted that female melanoma patients have a 1.4 times greater chance of developing breast cancer.

“All of these studies reinforce the importance of routine breast cancer exams for melanoma patients and annual skin exams for breast cancer survivors,” said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “It is particularly alarming for young women as melanoma rates are increasing rapidly among this demographic.” Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old. Women under the age of 39 have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.

The Foundation recommends that high-risk patients undergo an annual full-body skin screening by a physician. And self-exams are just as important, coupled with the practice of rigorous sun protection methods. Performed regularly, self-examination can alert you to changes in the skin and aid in the early detection of skin cancer.

On behalf of Dr. Lawrence Jaeger and the medical staff at Advanced Dermatology Associates, we’re concerned about your overall health. As the leading Dermatologist provider network in New York City, we strongly encourage both men and women to educate themselves with the proper knowledge and to seek the necessary medical care for decreasing the incidences of breast & skin cancer.

Visit Dr. Larry Jaeger and the Advanced Dermatology Associates at 200 Central Park South – Suite 107 in Central Park South/Columbus Circle neighborhood of Manhattan; or in the Bronx (Grand Concourse, Parkchester, Co-Op City and Third Avenue) or contact us at (212) 262-2500 or toll-free at 800-545-7546 (SKIN) to schedule your appointment.

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