According to a recent study, Parkinson's disease shares common mechanisms with some cancers. The findings of the study have been published in Neurology.
Neurodegenerative diseases, in particular PD, may share common pathogenic mechanisms with some cancers, according to the study background.
"Identifying a genetic relationship between PD and cancer is critical to understanding underlying pathophysiologic changes in both diseases. Understanding this relationship could allow clinicians to provide proper assessment of cancer risk in patients with PD and might also have implications for the counseling of relatives of patients," the authors note in the study background.
Seth A. Kareus, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, estimated relative risks (RRs) for cancer in individuals with PD listed on their death certificate, and in their relatives. The study identified 2,998 patients with PD listed as their cause of death from 1904 to 2008 and also included information from the Utah Cancer Registry on 100,817 patients diagnosed with cancer.
To validate their observed associations, researchers also estimated the reciprocal RR for PD death among patients diagnosed with melanoma and their relatives, and estimated the RRs for death with PD among patients diagnosed with prostate cancer and their relatives.
"A significantly increased risk for prostate cancer was observed in the PD population as well as among their relatives. A reciprocal significantly increased risk for PD was also found in the 22,147 prostate cancer cases and their relatives," according to the study results.
The study also notes that "a significantly elevated risk for melanoma was found in the Utah PD population as well as in their relatives. A reciprocal significantly increased relative risk for PD was found in 7,841 Utah melanoma cases and their relatives," the study results indicate.
Among the individuals with PD who died, the authors observed 48 cases of melanoma. The estimated RR for melanoma in patients with PD who died was 1.95; and an increased risk for death with PD was noted among the patients with melanoma (RR, 1.65). Researchers also found prostate cancer in 212 patients with PD who died (RR, 1.71) and an increased risk for death with PD was found among the prostate cancer patients (RR, 1.39), according to the results.
"Thus, these data argue strongly for a significant shared genetic risk for specific cancers on the one hand and neurodegeneration on the other. ....These studies provide a framework for future definition of the precise nature of shared genetic variation leading to neurodegeneration in some individuals, but skin or prostate cancers in others, and they may influence strategies for skin and prostate cancer screening," the authors conclude.