Second cancer incidence and cancer mortality among chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patients: a population-based study

J A Royle, P D Baade, D Joske, J Girschik, L Fritschi
British Journal of Cancer 2011 September 27, 105 (7): 1076-81

BACKGROUND: Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) are known to have increased risks of second cancer. The incidence of second cancers after CLL has not been reported in detail for Australia, a country with particularly high levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

METHODS: The study cohort comprised of all people diagnosed with a primary CLL between 1983 and 2005 in Australia. Standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) and standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated using Australian population rates.

RESULTS: Overall, the risk of any second incident cancer was more than double that of the general population (SIR=2.17, 95% confidence interval (CI)=2.07, 2.27) and remained elevated for at least 9 years after CLL. Risks were increased for many cancers, particularly melanoma (SIR=7.74, 95% CI=6.85, 8.72). The risk of melanoma increased at younger ages, but was constant across >9 years of follow-up. Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patients also had an increased risk of death because of melanoma (SMR=4.79, 95% CI=3.83, 5.90) and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC; SMR=17.0, 95% CI=14.4, 19.8), suggesting that these skin cancers may be more aggressive in CLL patients.

CONCLUSION: We speculate that a shared risk factor, such as general immune suppression, modulated by UVR exposure may explain the increased risk of melanoma and NMSC in CLL patients.

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