A new study following more than 19,000 people for 16 years has found that those who contract non-melanoma skin cancers, which normally are nonfatal, stand double the risk for developing other cancers, compared to those who never had skin cancer. The study, out of Johns Hopkins in Maryland and the Medical University of South Carolina, followed 769 patients who had squamous cell or basal cell tumors, as well as 18,405 people who never had the illness. Of the subsequent cancers contracted, melanoma was by far the most common, with an eightfold increased risk for those who previously had non-melanoma skin cancer. Those people were also at increased risk for lung, colon, prostrate, and breast cancers.
According to the researchers, the results indicate that some people have a greater susceptibility to cancer than others. The researchers hypothesize that non-melanoma skin cancer appears as an early warning sign of that vulnerability, and that vulnerable people don’t bounce back from damage caused by environmental factors such as getting too much sun. In other words, their DNA doesn’t rally after sustaining the original damage that led to the first cancer, so they develop new cancers. The doctors also note that since non-melanoma skin cancer is locally treated, usually by removing the tumor, subsequent cancers can’t be attributed to the effects of chemo or radiation [not entirely true], thus underlining the relevance of their “vulnerable DNA” argument.
Well, that’s certainly one interpretation of the data. Here’s another.
Once again, we have medical research making big news where the only surprising thing is that anybody would be surprised by the results. Just last week, I posted standard treatment for melanoma absolutely includes systemic chemotherapy and radiation treatment — both known carcinogens.
So once again, why is anyone in the medical community surprised when cancer reoccurs down the road after medical treatment? I keep coming back to that classic definition of insanity — doing what you’ve always been doing and thinking that somehow, this time, the results will be different. Perhaps the medical community is touched by a bit of insanity.