People suffering with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or colitis, could be at risk of non-melnoma skin cancer – particularly if they are taking immune-suppressing medications.Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main major types of bowel disease.Ulcerative colitis involves inflammation of the lining of the large intestine, and Crohn’s disease involves inflammation of the lining and wall of the small or large intestine.However, experts have said certain treatments for In Inflammatory Bowel Disease – such as thiopurines – act by suppressing the immune system, which could increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

Two studies, previously published in the journal Gastroenterology, looked at the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer among people with In Inflammatory Bowel Disease.The first study involved more than 9,600 IBD patients.Risk of skin cancer in these patients was compared with the risk in a similar group of people without IBD. Experts found people with IBD were 20 per cent more likely to develop a form of skin cancer than those without the disease.The second study was conducted in France and involved more than 19,000 people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.Experts found current and past users of thiopurines had an increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, which was even seen among patients under the age of 50.

These results suggest that people with In Inflammatory Bowel Disease may have an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, particularly if they use thiopurines.People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease are advised to protect their skin from the sun and monitor their skin of other changes.Researchers at the University of Dundee have found that skin cancers in mice can closely mirror those found in humans, offering a model that could be used to help develop new drugs to fight the disease.Skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and is on the rise.In the 10-year period from 2001 to 2011, Scotland saw an increase of more than 50 per cent in the incidence of the disease with around 3,000 new cases now diagnosed annually.

In many cases skin cancers can be removed but they are still a major cause of morbidity and mortality, especially in certain high-risk populations, including In Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients.“There is an urgent need to find an effective method for prevention and treatment, but suitable preclinical models have not been available,” said Albena Dinkova-Kostova, professor of Chemical Biology in the University’s Medical School.“We have developed a new preclinical model of UVR-induced skin cancer.

Detailed analyses of the tumour histopathology and deep sequencing of genomic DNA isolated from the tumour tissue revealed that the skin tumours we see in mice accurately represent the human disease.“We propose the use of this model to further study skin cancer development and test the efficacy of potential pharmacological agents for the prevention and treatment of skin cancer.“There is a particular need to develop new treatments that could help those in the particularly high-risk groups such as transplant patients.

”The research has been funded by Tenovus Scotland (Tayside Region), Cancer Research UK, and the British Skin Foundation. Results of the research have been published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.Dr Emma Smith, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said, “Studying mice to understand how non-melanoma skin cancer develops could provide important clues for developing new treatments.“Non-melanoma is a common skin cancer and for most people treatment is simple and successful. But for some it can be much more serious, and this research is an important step towards finding better treatments for this group of patients.”


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