Antiestrogen therapy may reduce the risk of developing melanoma in women with breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research. Research has suggested that the increased risk of secondary cutaneous melanoma after breast cancer may be due to elevated estrogen levels and that antiestrogen therapy should be associated with a reduction in melanoma risk.

Researchers compared data from 7,360 women diagnosed with breast cancer entered into the Geneva Cancer Registry between 1980 and 2005. Approximately 54% of patients received antiestrogens. Cutaneous melanoma incidence rates were compared among patients both with and without antiestrogens with those expected in the general population by age and period standardized incidence ratios (SIR). Patients were followed until December 2008 during which 34 women developed a melanoma. Compared with the general population, the risk of melanoma was higher for patients who did not receive antiestrogens (SIR: 1.60, 95% CI: 1.08–2.12, P=0.02), but close to 1 for patients who did receive antiestrogen therapy (SIR: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.40–1.56, P=0.57).

The study suggests that antiestrogen therapy modifies the risk of melanoma after breast cancer. The investigators concluded that study results support the hypothesis that estrogens could potentially play a role in melanoma occurrence and that larger clinical trials are needed.

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