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Melanoma Risk May Be Higher in Parkinson's Disease

Far more skin cancer lesions detected in patient population than their counterparts without PD

THURSDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Parkinson's disease (PD) patients may be at increased risk of melanoma, according to a study in the March issue of the Archives of Neurology.

John M. Bertoni, M.D., of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues conducted a study of 2,106 patients recruited from 31 centers across North America who had been diagnosed with idiopathic PD for a mean 7.1 years. At two separate consultations, the participants underwent a medical evaluation by a neurologist and an examination by a dermatologist, including biopsy of any lesions suggestive of melanoma. Almost 85 percent of participants had received levodopa.

The participants had 346 pigmented lesions, of which 20 were in-situ melanomas and four were invasive melanomas, while a review of medical histories revealed that there were 68 prior melanomas. Among the 1,692 American participants, the prevalence of melanoma was 2.24 times higher than their age- and sex-matched counterparts without PD, and was more than seven times that detected by the American Academy of Dermatology skin cancer screening program, the researchers found.

"Our study cannot provide an estimate of the incidence of melanoma in PD patients because it is based on a single dermatologic examination," the authors write. "Regardless of the exact prevalence of melanoma in the general population, a prevalence of greater than 1 percent warrants increased vigilance and regular screening for melanoma in PD patients."

Several of the authors reported having served as a speaker, advisor or researcher for pharmaceutical companies.

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