and melanoma, a type of skin
cancer originating in the pigment producing melanocytes. The exact reason
remains a mystery although some scientists have suggested that levodopa, a drug
used in the treatment of Parkinsonism may be the cause, while others have
refuted the suggestion.
‘Identifying the reason for increased risk of melanoma in Parkinsonís disease would help in counseling patients and their families on reducing the risk or preventing its occurrence.’
The current research team embarked on
this study to determine if they could validate the findings of previous studies
and get more answers to the puzzle.
Disease And Melanoma Risk - The Study
Using the Rochester Epidemiology Project
medical records database, the Mayo study team identified all
neurologist-confirmed Parkinson's cases over a 37 year period from January 1976
through December 2013 among Olmsted County, Minn., residents.
- The team analyzed the prevalence of
melanoma in the 974 Parkinson's disease patients in comparison to 2,922
residents without Parkinson's.
- Similarly, they also identified
1,544 cases of melanoma over the same period and arrived at the 35-year
risk of Parkinson's disease in these patients compared with the risk in a
similar number of people without melanoma.
- The findings support an association
between Parkinson's disease and melanoma, but levodopa is unlikely to be
the reason, according to the research team.
- The study found that Parkinson's disease patients were four
times more likely to develop melanoma, and patients diagnosed with
melanoma were four times more likely to get Parkinson's disease.
- The team believe that other causes
such as common genetic factors,
immune system abnormalities or environmental influences may be at play
but further research is essential to identify and clearly establish the
"Future research should focus on
identifying common genes, immune responses and environmental exposures that may
link these two diseases," says first author Lauren Dalvin, M.D., a Mayo
Foundation Scholar in Ocular Oncology. "If we can pinpoint the cause of
the association between Parkinson's disease and melanoma, we will be better
able to counsel patients and families about their risk of developing one
disease in the setting of the other."
What Earlier Studies Say About Parkinson's Disease And Melanoma Association
- However, until an answer is found,
it is essential for doctors to counsel patients about the associations
between the two diseases, as well as patients suffering from either
disease to be watchful for warning symptoms and signs and seek prompt
medical advice as appropriate.
To Protect Against Skin cancer?
- Previous research suggest that the
pigment melanin could be a possible link.
Studies have shown that melanin in skin protects against development of
melanoma. Interestingly, decreased levels of melanin in the substantia
nigra area of the brain is associated with increased susceptibility of
these neurons to injury and death resulting in impaired motor functions
- A possible molecular basis has also
been put forth. Alterations in GSTM1,
CYP2D6 and VDR genes could up the risk for both PD and melanoma.
Additionally, some PD-related genes, such as alpha-synuclein, Parkin,
LRRK2 and DJ-1, were also found to be key in the pathogenesis of melanoma.
However, more studies are needed to validate these
autophagy mechanisms have been implicated in the
development of both PD as well as melanoma. Again more studies are needed
to establish these theories.
In addition to Parkinson's disease,
several other factors have been known to increase the risk of melanoma. A
knowledge of the risk factors can help in taking necessary precautions wherever
possible. The risk factors include the following:
- Caucasian race
- Male gender
- Increasing age
- Ultraviolet light exposure (can be
reduced or prevented by appropriate precautions such as using suntan
lotions, wearing protective clothing and using goggles)
- Family history of skin cancer
- Prior history of melanoma or other
In conclusion, more research is indicated to shed light on
yet unanswered questions and gain more insight into the pathogenesis of these
conditions. However, it goes without saying that persons with known risk
factors for skin cancer should have regular followups with a dermatologist and
remain aware of the warning signs of melanoma.
- Parkinson's Disease and Melanoma - (https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?ask-the-md-parkinson-disease-and-melanoma)
- The association between Parkinson's disease and melanoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4631109/)