Childhood cancer survivors at risk of skin cancer

Kids undergoing radiation treatment for cancer face an increased risk for skin cancer (excluding Malignant melanoma) later in life, according to a new report.

To assess the impact of childhood cancer on future skin cancer risk, Dr. Joanna L. Perkins, from Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and colleagues analyzed data from 13,132 subjects enrolled in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. All the participants had survived at least 5 years after diagnosis of cancer in childhood or adolescence.

A total of 213 individuals developed nonmelanoma skin cancer during follow-up, including 99 with multiple occurrences, the team reports in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The average age when skin cancer occurred was 31 years. The head and neck were the most common sites, noted in 43 percent of cases, followed by the back in 24 percent and the chest in 22 percent.

Ninety percent of subjects who developed skin cancer had been treated with radiotherapy in the past. Moreover, 90 percent of the tumors that occurred in these patients were within the area treated with radiation.

The researchers calculate that undergoing radiotherapy for a childhood malignancy raised the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer by 6.3-fold.

Nonetheless, the risk may be well worth it. Results of a second Journal study show that survival for most cancers has improved among European children in the last decade.

In the EUROCARE Working Group Study, Dr. Gemma Gatta, from Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori in Milan, Italy, and colleagues analyzed data from 44,129 children to determine cancer survival patterns from 1983 to 1994.

Overall, 5-year survival for all cancers rose from 65 percent to 75 percent during the study period, the researchers note.

“These gratifying improvements in survival can often be plausibly related to advances in treatment,” the researchers state. They point out, however, that this good news means that “the prevalence of European adults with a history of cancer will inevitably increase.”

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, June 1, 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD