Risk of prostate, breast and colorectal cancer after skin cancer diagnosis

Int J Cancer. 2008 Dec 15;123(12):2899-901. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23816.


Ultraviolet radiation is the major cause of skin cancer, but promotes vitamin D synthesis, and vitamin D has been inversely related to the risk of several common cancers including prostate, breast and colorectum. We therefore computed the incidence of prostate, breast and colorectal cancer following skin cancer using the datasets of the Swiss cancer Registries of Vaud and Neuchâtel. Between 1974 and 2005, 6,985 histologically confirmed squamous cell skin cancers, 21,046 basal cell carcinomas and 3,346 cutaneous malignant melanomas were registered, and followed up to the end of 2005 for the occurrence of second primary cancer of the prostate, breast and colorectum. Overall, 680 prostate cancers were observed versus 568.3 expected (standardized incidence ratio (SIR) = 1.20; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11-1.29), 440 breast cancers were observed versus 371.5 expected (SIR = 1.18; 95% CI: 1.08-1.30) and 535 colorectal cancers were observed versus 464.6 expected (SIR = 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06-1.25). When basal cell, squamous cell and skin melanoma were considered separately, all the SIRs for prostate, breast and colorectal cancers were around or slightly above unity. Likewise, the results were consistent across strata of age at skin cancer diagnosis and location (head and neck versus others), and for male and female colorectal cancers. These findings, based on a population with a long tradition of systematic histologic examination of all surgically treated skin lesions, do not support the hypothesis that prostate, breast and colorectal cancer risk is decreased following skin cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / blood
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Ultraviolet Rays* / adverse effects
  • Vitamin D / blood*


  • Vitamin D