Thyroid Disease and Skin Cancer

Skin cancer and thyroid disease

Dermatologists have known for some time that vitiligo and thyroid disorders are linked in their clinical practice. Vrijman and colleagues from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, investigated this and discovered that there was a link (see British Journal of Dermatology 2012; 167: 1224-35).

They discovered that 15.1 percent of vitiligo patients had thyroid illness, 14.3 percent had autoimmune thyroid disease, and 208 percent had thyroid-specific autoantibodies. As a result, all vitiligo patients should have their thyroid function evaluated. 

Because vitiligo sufferers have a tendency to burn when exposed to the sun, the risk of skin cancer is regarded to be higher. A team from the Netherlands has looked into this situation (see Teulings et al. British Journal of Dermatology 2013; 168: 162-71). They conducted a study to examine the lifetime prevalences of malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in vitiligo patients and non-vitiligo controls. Patients with vitiligo have a threefold decreased risk of acquiring malignant melanoma and NMSC, according to their findings. The reasons for this are still being worked out. This can be heard on BBC iPlayer. To learn more, go to this page.

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