Risk of prostate cancer jumps after melanoma

2 minute read

Men who survive melanoma have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. And it’s not all about increased medical surveillance.

Men who have survived melanoma have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than the general population, according to new research from the University of Sydney.

Presenting at the Australasian Skin Cancer Congress on the Gold Coast, Dr Visalini Nair Shalliker, a senior research fellow at the Centre and lead author of the research, said their findings built on earlier studies showing higher risks of subsequent cancers after melanoma.

They used data from the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study, linked with data from the Centre for Health Record Linkage and Services Australia. Of almost 100,000 eligible men, 1899 were diagnosed with melanoma during the study period and 3677 with incident prostate cancer diagnosed during follow-up.

“Men with melanoma diagnosis had increased risk of a subsequent prostate cancer diagnoses,” Dr Shalliker and colleagues wrote in the British Journal of Cancer.

“There was weak evidence of higher risks of a subsequent prostate cancer diagnosis for men diagnosed with more than one melanoma compared to men diagnosed with only one melanoma, and if first melanoma diagnosis was 10 to 15 years before study recruitment.”

Men were 32% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer if they had one melanoma, and twice as likely to be diagnosed if the first melanoma was 10-15 years prior.  

Dr Shalliker told the conference that even after adjusting for medical surveillance, the increased risk of developing prostate cancer remained significant.

“When we looked at stage of disease, the risk of prostate cancer was significantly increased in men with localised [melanoma],” she said.

“There was no association for men with regional metastatic spread. That might be attributed to patterns of care after melanoma diagnosis, in that guidelines do not recommend offering a man a PSA test if his life expectancy is less than 15 years.

“We also looked at the anatomical location of melanoma and found that prostate cancer risk was highest [following] melanoma in the cartilage and lower limbs.”

“Detection bias is an important factor to consider, primarily because men diagnosed with invasive melanoma are more likely to be followed up closely by their doctors for various health complications, and disease recurrence as well,” Dr Shalliker told the delegates.

“This increased interaction with the health system may inadvertently increase the chances of detecting other conditions, and in the case of prostate cancer, increased detection of asymptomatic prostate cancer due to increased prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing.”

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