The research that appeared in JCI Insight, the peer-reviewed journal published by the American Society for Clinical Investigation, concluded that increased susceptibility to cancers of the breast, colon, prostate and blood among others, is likely related to mutations in a panel of proteins that repair DNA damage.
As the study’s senior author Kavita Sarin, assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University, explains: “We discovered that people who develop six or more basal cell carcinomas during a 10-year period are about three times more likely than the general population to develop other, unrelated cancers.
“We’re hopeful that this finding could be a way to identify people at an increased risk for a life-threatening malignancy before those cancers develop.”
Sixty-one people that had been treated for unusually frequent basal cell carcinomas were studied to see if they had genetic mutations in the code for those proteins that repair DNA damage. The research team found that 20% of the group had a mutation compared to approximately 3% of the general population. They were also more likely to have suffered from additional cancers.
This analysis was then applied to a large medical insurance database and found that the more basal cell carcinomas reported, the more likely the person was to have had other cancers.
Basal cell carcinoma is a very common form of skin cancer and about one in three Caucasians will develop it at some point in their lifetime and this research doesn’t mean that you have an increased risk of developing other cancers. However, for those patients that have been diagnosed with several basal cell carcinomas over a short period, it does raise the question of increased screening.