Breast Cancer and Skin Cancer: Are They Connected?

breast cancer and skin cancer

Many people wonder if different cancers are connected to each other or if having cancer of one type makes you more likely to have another type. A 2018 study found some connections do indeed exist between different types of cancers.

According to, “People who are diagnosed with a higher-than-average number of basal cell carcinomas, a common type of skin cancer, have a higher risk of other cancers, including breast, colon, and prostate cancer.”

The complete research study was published online on August 9, 2018 by the journal JCI Insight: “Frequent basal cell cancer development is a clinical marker for inherited cancer susceptibility.”

What’s Causing the Connection?

The researchers who conducted the study believe this increased risk to be caused by genetic mutations that are responsible for repairing DNA damage.

It gets a bit scientific, but individuals who developed frequent basal cell carcinomas have an increased prevalence of germline mutations in DNA repair genes and increased malignancy risk (or risk of getting another cancer, like breast cancer).

What Does the Research Mean for You?

This information is more about being aware and understanding, not just causing people to worry. It’s also important to note that there were only 61 patients enrolled in the study, so it’s not a statistically significant sample size and more research is continuously being done in this area. notes, “If you’ve been diagnosed with six or more basal cell carcinomas during a 10-year period, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether genetic testing makes sense for you. You also may want to ask if more frequent screening and different types of screening, such as breast MRI and breast ultrasound, makes sense for your unique situation.”

Getting annual skin exams, checkups with your doctor, and regular mammograms are all important to your health and well-being. Also, if you’re at higher risk for skin cancer, you may want to get skin exams more often than annually.

Visit your local Greater Austin area Dermatologists to schedule your annual skin exam or make an appointment with an experienced Skin Care Provider if you have any concerns. You can make an appointment at one of the eight Greater Austin area Vitalogy Skincare locations.