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Family History of Melanoma Increases Risk for Mesothelioma

Though it is well known that exposure to asbestos causes the rare and deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma, there are still many  questions yet to be answered. Scientists are uncertain as to exactly how the cancer takes hold, or why it strikes some of those who have been exposed to the carcinogenic material while others remain healthy. Now a team of researchers from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg believe that they are one step closer to answering that question.

According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, people who have  been exposed to asbestos, and who have first-degree family members who have been diagnosed with melanoma, have an increased chance of developing mesothelioma – both pleural and peritoneal varieties of the disease. They believe that this is because mesothelioma and melanoma have shared genetic mutations.  Mesothelioma is not the first or only cancer to have a link to melanoma. The same has been found true of acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma.

The study is titled “Risk of other Cancers in Families with Melanoma: Novel Familial Links.” It specifically examines the activities related to a high-risk gene known as CDKN2A. Not  only has it been associated with those diagnosed with leukemia and multiple myeloma but also with a higher risk of breast and prostate cancer. The researchers involved accessed data previously collected by the Swedish Family-Cancer Database, looking at almost 80,000 melanoma patient histories. What they found was that though less than nine percent of patients diagnosed with melanoma had a family history, among that nine percent there was a marked trend for having multiple family members in their generation who were also diagnosed with the disease. They also had a higher likelihood of being additionally diagnosed with a number of other serious forms of cancer, and those who had a first degree relate who had been diagnosed with more than one melanoma were also at higher risk for bone cancers and cancers of the breast, the lung, the skin and the small intestines.

When it comes to mesothelioma, the scientists also looked into that specific link because melanoma was recently found to have involvement with the BAP1 gene, which also plays a role in the development of mesothelioma. What they found was that people who had a single family member with melanoma were 55 percent more likely to develop mesothelioma, and where more than one family member had melanoma that risk factor increased to being 2.14 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease then those with no family history of melanoma.

Knowing your risk factors is a big part of early diagnosis of mesothelioma. At Mesothelioma.net, our Patient Advocates are able to provide you with a wealth of information about diagnosis, treatment, and financial compensation that is available for mesothelioma victims. Call us at 1-800-692-8608 for more information.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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