A cohort study of personal and family history of skin cancer in relation to future risk of non-cutaneous malignancies

  • James Small
  • Kristin WallaceEmail author
  • Elizabeth G. Hill
  • Bruce H. Thiers
  • Brian C. Leach
  • Anthony J. Alberg
Original Paper



Skin cancer has repeatedly been observed to be a marker of increased risk for developing an internal malignancy. The purpose of our study was to further investigate this association while also characterizing the potential role of family history of skin cancer in relation to risk for non-cutaneous malignancies.


Our study used data from 8,408 participants from the NHANES I epidemiological follow-up study. Cox-proportional hazards models were used to estimate the risk for developing an internal cancer associated with a personal history and family history of skin cancer during follow-up.


A personal history of skin cancer was associated with significantly increased risk of developing an internal cancer in adjusted models [hazard ratio (HR) 1.33, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09–1.61] but a family history of skin cancer was not associated with increased risk (HR 0.80, 95% CI 0.58–1.11).


Consistent with prior reports, a personal history of skin cancer was associated with increase of developing internal malignancies, but this did not hold true for a family history of skin cancer. Further research is needed to understand why a personal history of skin cancer acts as a marker for increased risk for internal cancer.


Skin neoplasms/epidemiology Neoplasms, second primary/epidemiology Family medical history Cohort studies Follow-up studies Humans 



Supported in part by the Biostatistics Shared Resource of the Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina (P30 CA138313).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Small
    • 1
  • Kristin Wallace
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Elizabeth G. Hill
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bruce H. Thiers
    • 3
  • Brian C. Leach
    • 4
  • Anthony J. Alberg
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Public Health SciencesMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Hollings Cancer CenterMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  3. 3.Dermatology and Dermatologic SurgeryMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  4. 4.The Skin Surgery Center of CharlestonMount PleasantUSA
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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