Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease May Have An Increased Risk Of Skin Cancer
A certain increased risk for developing skin cancer may be found in some patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. This particular risk can be also increased by immunosuppressant drugs (commonly used for treating inflammatory bowel disease). The two studies which approached this matter were published in the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.
Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of diseases of the digestive system, with inflammation as the main symptom. The inflammatory bowel diseases are : ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis occurs in the intestine, and Crohn’s disease can involve any part of the digestive tract, from mouth to anus, but commonly occurs in the small intestine or colon. When inflammation is severe the disorder is in active stage and manifestations are evident. When the degree of inflammation is low and the patient has no symptoms, the disease is considered to be in remission stage.
Researchers, in their first study linked thiopurines use (immunosuppressant medication class) to a significantly nonmelanoma skin cancer risk, in patietiens before the age of 50 suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. There are no specific screening methods for skin cancers in patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. The increased risk for developing skin cancer was highlighted in all patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease who received thiopurines. The risk of developing cancer also increased with age. The conclusion is that patients on thiopurines, should stay away from other skin cancer risk factors such as UV radiation, and visit their dermatologist on a regular basis according to Laurent Peyrin-Biroulet, PhD leading author of the study.
Nonmelanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma that together, are responsible for the most diagnosed cancer types in North America. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is constantly diagnosed in patients treated with immunosuppressive medications.
In their second study, researchers established that men patients suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome, may present a baseline increased risk for basal cell carcinoma, and linked the immunosuppressant thiopurines medication class use to an increased squamous cell carcinoma risk.
All patients with inflammatory bowel syndrome should be aware of the skin cancer risk and clinicians should be extra vigilant when it comes to patients on thiopurines.
On the other hand, these results will probably not exclude thiopurines as a treatment option for inflammatory bowel disease syndrome. The benefits of thiopurines outweigh the small increased risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancers according to Dr. Sigh.