Anti-estrogen therapy associated with reduced melanoma risk in women with breast cancer


HemOnc Today

Posted on January 5, 2012

Women with breast cancer undergoing anti-estrogen treatment may have a lower risk for melanoma, according to researchers from Switzerland and France.

Previous research has demonstrated that higher estrogen levels may be associated with melanoma etiology, suggesting that anti-estrogen use should be linked to a decreased risk for melanoma. Using data from the Geneva Cancer Registry, the current researchers compared the incidence of melanoma among patients diagnosed with breast cancer between 1980 and 2005 who were treated with or without anti-estrogen therapy. Fifty-four percent of the patients received anti-estrogen treatment.

All patients were followed through December 2008, during which time 34 women developed a melanoma – 11 who received anti-estrogens and 23 who did not. The incidence rate of melanoma per 100,000 person-years was 45 for those who received anti-estrogens vs. 60.3 for those who did not.

The risk for melanoma was higher among patients who did not receive anti-estrogen therapy compared with the general population (SIR=1.60; 95% CI, 1.08-2.12). Among patients who received anti-estrogen therapy, the risk for melanoma was close to 1 (SIR=0.98; 95% CI, 0.40-1.56).

“This study suggests that anti-estrogen therapy modifies the risk of melanoma after breast cancer,” the researchers wrote. “Although our results are in agreement with the hypothesis that estrogens could play a role in melanoma occurrence, they need to be replicated in a larger study with data on potential co-founders.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.