Know The Risk
If you have had breast cancer studies* show your risk of developing melanoma is up to 2.58-times greater than normal. And the risk is reciprocal. Females with melanoma have a 1.4-time greater chance of developing breast cancer.
Having the BRCA2 gene also substantially increases a breast cancer survivor's risk of melanoma and having the CDKN2A gene increases a melanoma survivor's risk of breast cancer.
Because of this crucial link, both breast cancer and melanoma survivors should take extra preventative and early detection measures. These include regular self-exams of the skin and breasts, annual mammograms, and annual Total-Body Skin Cancer Examsm by one of our highly trained dermatologists and dermatology providers.
Moles or other growths that are asymmetric, have irregular borders, vary in color, are larger than a pencil eraser, or those that are changing in size or shape should be checked by a dermatology specialist.
*Archives of Dermatology: Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(12):1395 1402. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2011.1133. Geoffrey B. Yang, BS; Jill S. Barnholdtz Sloan, PhD; Yanwen Chen, PhD; et al)
Published in 2011, this study included 70,819 patients with cutaneous melanoma (CM) as a first primary cancer and 6,353 patients with CM following a previous cancer. In analyzing instances of melanoma as a second cancer, researchers found a similar increase in risk levels for other cancers: melanoma survivors younger than 45 years old had a 1.38 relative risk of breast cancer as a second cancer. Melanoma patients 45 years and older had a 1.12% increase in the relative risk for being diagnosed with breast cancer.
International Journal of Cancer: 2004 Sep 20;111(5):792 4. Association between female breast cancer and cutaneous melanoma. Goggins W, Gao W, Tsao H)
Results of this 2004 study indicated female breast cancer survivors were 16% more likely to develop cutaneous melanoma than women who have not had breast cancer. And female melanoma survivors had an 11% increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer as second cancers. More strikingly:
"Among young [breast cancer] patients, we observed a 46% elevated risk of a second [cutaneous melanoma]. Women who underwent radiation therapy exhibited a 42% increased risk for [cutaneous melanoma].”
The study also found that patients with a mutated BRCA2 gene, which increases risk for developing breast cancer, and those with a mutation on the melanoma susceptibility gene, CDKN2A, are both more likely to develop the other cancer compared to those without these gene mutations.