Antiestrogens May Counter Increased Skin Cancer Risk

In breast cancer patients, no excess melanoma risk found in those receiving antiestrogen therapy

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- For breast cancer patients receiving antiestrogen therapy, there doesn't appear to be an excess risk of secondary cutaneous melanoma, according to a study published in the January issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

Caroline Huber, of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and colleagues used data from the Geneva Cancer Registry to compare the melanoma incidence rate among breast cancer patients treated with or without antiestrogen therapy with the expected melanoma incidence rate in the general population. Among 7,360 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1980 and 2005, 54 percent received antiestrogen treatment. The women were followed until December 2008 (median follow-up of seven years).

The researchers found that 34 women in the breast cancer cohort developed a melanoma during the follow-up period. Compared with the general population, the risk of melanoma was significantly higher for breast cancer patients who did not receive antiestrogen therapy (standardized incidence ratio [SIR], 1.60; P = 0.02). For breast cancer patients who received antiestrogen therapy, there was no increased risk of developing a melanoma (SIR, 0.98; P = 0.57).

"This study suggests that antiestrogen therapy modifies the risk of melanoma after breast cancer. Although our results are in agreement with the hypothesis that estrogens could play a role in melanoma occurrence, they need to be replicated in a larger study with data on potential confounders," the authors write.

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