Second malignancies in melanoma patients in Thuringia

J Wolff, U Wollina
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV 2000, 14 (6): 479-83

OBJECTIVE: The incidence of melanoma is increasing. Melanoma patients are at risk for the development of second neoplasias. Data for the new German Bundesländer are not available, but would be suitable to define frequency, site and type of secondary malignancies and conclusions for follow-up of melanoma patients.

DESIGN: Retrospective study at the Melanoma Outpatient Clinic of the Department of Dermatology and Allergology at the University of Jena (Germany) for patients seen between June 1966 and June 1999. To investigate the impact of second malignancies on survival a case-comparison study of mortality was performed. The log-rank test and chi2-test were used to investigate statistical significance. There were 554 patients with malignant melanoma, 237 male and 317 female, with an age at time of diagnosis between 17.0 and 90.1 years (mean 53.7 years). The mean follow-up was 5.6 years.

RESULTS: Sixty-one patients (11.0%) developed a second tumour. The total number of tumours was 83. Forty-five patients developed one, 16 developed > or = 2 second tumours. Basal cell carcinoma (BBC) was the most frequent neoplasia (17 patients, 22 tumours; mean age 64.9 years). A second melanoma was found in 15 patients, while two developed a third melanoma. The mean tumour thickness was 0.81 mm (in second or third melanomas) compared with 1.92 mm of primary melanomas. Seven female patients developed breast cancer (eight cancers; mean age 57.3 years). The other second tumours included skin cancer (eight), gastrointestinal tract tumours (four), genital cancers (19), brain tumours (two), lung cancer (two) and other tumours (six). The difference in survival of patients with second tumours was not statistically significant from age-, sex- and melanoma thickness-matched controls.

CONCLUSIONS: Second malignancies were seen in 11.0% of melanoma patients. Most important are second skin tumours such as second melanomas and BCC, recommending follow-up by the dermatologist. In a group of patients with regular follow-up examinations, no negative impact of second tumours (BCC, melanoma, breast cancer) on overall survival could be detected.

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