Multiple myeloma patients are used to friends or family confusing their blood cancer (multiple myeloma) with the skin cancer (melanoma). Beyond the naming mixups, myeloma patients may actually have more to worry about, with a higher risk of developing melanoma in addition to myeloma.
At a recent dermatology meeting, data was presented showing that patients with multiple myeloma are more likely to develop melanoma than the general population. The data also showed that myeloma patients may face a non-melanoma related higher mortality rate - no surprise to the myeloma patient community.
Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, the study reviewed almost 80,000 patients with multiple myeloma. Of the 79,174 patients, 261 developed at least one melanoma (177 men and 84 women).
The cases of melanoma were higher in patients who were:
- 12-119 month after a myeloma diagnosis
- Most races
- Ages 50-64
- Household income of $75,000 or greater
- Living in metropolitan counties
Myeloma patients with melanoma had:
- Thicker and deeper tumors
- Higher death risk if over 80 years old and caucasian
- Shorter overall survival (not due to the melanoma but likely due to the myeloma)
- More likely to develop more melanomas on their trunks or extremeties
The dermatologists suggested that myeloma patients be more carefully watched and take action on potential melanomas earlier than they might normally.
So how do we stay safer in the sun, now that warmer weather is upon us?
Summer Sun Tips
- Wear a hat
- Wear sunglasses to keep your eyes safe, as well as the sensitive skin beneath your eyes protected. Preferably buy glasses with maximum protection.
- Use sunscreen lip balm and apply it throughout the day
- Stay in the shade
- Consider walking under an umbrella or pitching an umbrella at the pool or beach and sit under it
- Stay out of the sun during peak hours (generally 11A-2P) as much as possible
- Cover your feet. If you’re wearing flip-flops or sandals, don’t forget sunscreen
- Apply sunscreen to your ears, nose, face and hands (fingers, too!)
- Wear proper clothes. If you’re going to be in the water for a long time, you may want to put on a T-shirt or rash-guard for maximum protection
- Stay hydrated
- Do whatever you can to NOT get burned!
about the author
Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of HealthTree Foundation (formerly Myeloma Crowd).