Eczema, Sun & Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma has a high risk for returning

(RxWiki News) Think putting on sunscreen takes too much time and effort? Think again—it could save your skin from serious trouble later in life.

A recent study found two major predictors for recurring basal cell carcinoma—the most common skin cancer in the U.S. This means that sun lotions is good for your health.

"Always protect your skin from the sun!"

Martin Weinstock, MD, professor of dermatology at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, studied the risk factors for recurring basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

Dr. Weinstock said, “Basal cell carcinoma is a chronic disease once people have had multiple instances of it, because they are always at risk of getting more.”

“It’s not something at the moment we can cure. It’s something that we need to monitor continually so that when these cancers crop up we can minimize the damage.”

According to the study, after being diagnosed with one BCC, the likelihood of having another is very high. BCCs can be open sores, pink bumps or waxy areas.

For the study, 1,131 people with a history of BCC participated. Most people in the study had an average of three or more BCCs before entering the study.

All of the participants were veterans, 97 percent male, and the average age was 72.

In the five years leading up to the study, 129 participants had five or more BCCs, 200 had three or four and 203 had zero to two BCCs.

The group with five or more BCCs was two to four times more likely to develop another BCC than those with fewer BCCs.

During the 6-year study, 44 percent of the whole group developed at least one new BCC.

People with a personal and/or family history of eczema were 1.54 times more likely to develop repeated BCCs than those without the skin condition.

Dr. Weinstock said, “We don’t know why this is. The connection with eczema is something that’s new, that needs to be further explored.”

Heavy sun exposure before the age of 30 was another frequent predictor of BCCs.

Dr. Weinstock said, “We talk about sun protection, which is important, but that’s something for basal cell that’s most important in your youth.”

“While we don’t exonerate UV exposure in one’s 40s, 50s, and 60s it was particularly UV exposure before the age of 30 that was most closely related to BCC in our study.”

Study authors recommend closely monitoring BCC.

This study was published in July in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Co-operative Studies Program provided funding for this study; no conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
August 29, 2012