Cancer canary

People with frequent common skin cancers could have a higher risk of developing other cancers, a preliminary study shows.

Over 10 years, researchers followed 61 Stanford Health Care patients treated for unusually frequent basal cell carcinomas, 21 of whom reported developing additional cancers, including blood cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.

Researchers found similar results when analyzing a medical insurance claims database that included more than 13,000 people with six or more basal cell carcinomas over the 10-year period.

Kavita Sarin, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology and senior author of the study published Aug. 9 in JCI Insight, said the findings help pinpoint candidates for more frequent and intensive cancer screenings.

Mutations in a panel of proteins responsible for repairing DNA damage are the likely cause of increased susceptibility, researchers found.