Is There A Link between Psoriasis and Cancer?

Some experts believe that psoriasis (a lifelong /chronic skin condition) is not merely skin deep. If the disease is not well-controlled, there is chance for mild to serious complications to occur. It is linked to the increased risk of psoriatic arthritis, hypertension, eye problems, obesity, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular diseases, and some autoimmune disorders. Is there also a link between this skin problem and cancer?

Topic overview

Normally, new cells of skin are continuously produced to help keep your skin healthy. They grow gradually and move to the outermost layers of the skin to replace old cells as they shade. This process can take about 4 weeks.

But in psoriasis, the production and movement of new cells to the skin surface go so rapidly that can take in days rather weeks. As a result, skin cells on the outermost layer of skin cannot slough off quickly enough, resulting in thick – silvery, white, or red patches of skin.

Though the exact cause of psoriasis is not clearly yet, it is thought as a consequence of the over reactive immune system cell called T-cell (T-Lymphocyte).

T-cell is a white blood cell that normally has function to help fight against foreign substance (antigen) such as harmful virus and bacteria. But in people with psoriasis, T-cells can be over reactive and even mistakenly attacks the healthy cells /tissue of the body.

The overactive T-cells can be a trigger of other reactions of the body immune system. These cause increased production of skin cells, and blood vessels dilation in the skin – which then eventually can affect the life cycle of skin cells.

It seems that the scaly patches from the excessive production of new skin cells are only one of the consequences from the overactive T-cells. In fact, people with psoriasis are also at high risk of other health conditions, as noted before. How about the risk of cancer?

The link between psoriasis and cancer

It’s clear that psoriasis is not related to poor hygiene practice, not due to infection, and not contagious condition. And currently, experts still believe that it is also not cancerous condition.

However, it seems that the risk of some types of cancer increases in people with chronically severe forms of psoriasis – according to a research published on JAAD ‘the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology’.

Unfortunately, the answer of how the increased risk of cancer in people with this chronic skin problem is unclear yet. Furthermore, it’s also not clear whether the disease has a direct link in increasing the risk.

image_illustration168So far, experts only can explain that the use of intensive treatments for severe cases of the disease may play a key role.

As mentioned before, the disease can lead to the overactive T-cells which then trigger other immune responds. In severe cases of the disease, intensive treatments are required to help suppress the immune system. But at the same time, the treatments may become independent risk factor for triggering malignancies.

Moreover, some experts think that the combination of the disease itself and newer treatments for chronically severe forms of the disease may have a role in increasing the risk of some types of cancer.

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