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Published on 9 March 2010

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Parkinson’s patients’ skin tested


People with Parkinson’s disease should be regularly screened for skin cancer, a university in the US has said.

Those with the disease seem to be more at risk of developing the most deadly type of skin cancer. A study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha found that around 1% of the 2,106 people with Parkinson’s disease who were tested were found to have melanoma.

The study subjects were examined neurologically then dermatologically: A total of 20 “localised” melanomas were found among the participants, as well as four melanomas which had spread. Another 68 participants said they had a history of the skin cancer.

Data from the American Academy of Dermatology programmes of skin cancer screening was compared with the new results and the researchers discovered at least a seven-fold increase in melanoma for people with Parkinson’s in the US.

Several reports since the 1970s have blamed levodopa therapy for causing skin cancer in Parkinson’s disease patients. Almost all the participants in the University of Nebraska study (85%) had taken levodopa, but the scientists said they did not find any evidence that this drug was linked to melanoma.

Copyright Press Association 2010
Nebraska Medical Center

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