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Risk for Skin Cancer Increased for Patients With Lower Extremity Lymphedema

Lymphedematous extremity 2.65 times as likely as the nonlymphedematous extremity to have skin cancer

By Elana Gotkine (HealthDay News) | December 18, 2023

MONDAY, Dec. 18, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with lower extremity (LE) lymphedema have an increased risk for skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma, according to a study published online in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Nimay C. Anand, M.D., from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study including patients with LE lymphedema examined from Jan. 1, 2000, through Dec. 31, 2020. The study included 4,437 patients with LE lymphedema and age-, race-, and sex-matched controls without lymphedema. The time to development of the first skin cancer was compared for the lymphedema and control cohorts.

The researchers found that the lymphedema group had a significantly increased risk for skin cancer compared with the matched control group. The lymphedematous extremity was 2.65 times as likely as the nonlymphedematous LE to have skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma, in a subset of patients with unilateral lymphedema.

"Future studies are needed to understand the pathogenesis of cancer in this population and to help guide individualized management of skin cancer in patients with lymphedema, particularly to determine whether cancers on lymphedematous LEs are histologically and prognostically different from cancers on nonlymphedematous LEs," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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