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Little or No Increased Risk for Skin Cancer Seen for Women With BRCA Mutations

No increased risk for nonmelanoma skin cancer observed, but risk for melanoma slightly elevated

By Dermsquared Editorial Team | May 22, 2024

WEDNESDAY, May 22, 2024 -- Women who harbor a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a slightly elevated risk for melanoma, but no increased risk for nonmelanoma skin cancer, according to a study published online May 13 in Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice.

Steven A. Narod, M.D., from the Women's College Research Institute in Toronto, and colleagues report on findings of a prospective cohort study of 6,207 women from North America who harbored BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations (3,623 and 2,584, respectively). Women were followed from baseline to skin cancer diagnosis, age 80 years, death from any cause, or last follow-up.

The researchers found that 3.7 percent of women with a BRCA1 mutation and 3.8 percent of those with a BRCA2 mutation reported skin cancer diagnosis (both keratinocyte carcinomas and melanoma). From age 20 to 80 years, the cumulative risk for all types of skin cancer was 14.1 and 10.7 percent for BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers, respectively. The cumulative risk for melanoma was 2.5 and 2.3 percent for BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers, respectively, compared with 1.5 percent for women in the general U.S. population. A prior diagnosis of skin cancer was the strongest risk factor for skin cancer.

"We suggest a referral for skin exam to a primary care provider for BRCA mutation carriers with a prior history of skin cancer for annual skin examination and counselling around protection from UV exposure, use of sunscreen, and self-screening to recognize the early signs of melanoma," the authors write.


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