Redheads at Higher Risk for Common Skin Cancer's Return

MONDAY Aug. 16, 2010 -- People with red hair are at higher risk for a recurrence of basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, researchers report.

Other people at increased risk include those who were diagnosed with the cancer at a younger age, more-affluent people, and people with a cancerous lesion on their upper extremities, according to the new study.

Researchers in the Netherlands analyzed data from almost 11,000 Dutch adults aged 55 and older. They found that 524 (4.8 percent) had basal cell carcinomas. Of those patients, 361 had single lesions and 163 had multiple lesions.

People who developed their first lesion after age 75 were much less likely to develop multiple lesions than those who did so earlier in life, the study authors reported in the August issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

However, people with red hair and those with a first lesion located on their upper extremities had a much higher risk of developing multiple lesions, the researchers found.

Furthermore, "in contrast to developing a first lesion, high educational level was significantly positively associated with developing multiple lesions," wrote Dr. Ville Kiiski and colleagues at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. "This finding may be explained by the probability that people with higher levels of education (which correlates strongly with socioeconomic status) have different lifestyles (e.g., more frequent exposure to UV rays for intermittent periods)."

The increased risk among people with higher socioeconomic status may also be because these people were more likely to develop cancer in places other than the face and neck, or due to the fact that they tend to live longer and have more time to develop lesions, the researchers said.

More information

The American Academy of Dermatology has more about skin cancer.

Posted: August 2010


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