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Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Feb 1;177(3):202-12. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws369. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

Use of arsenic-induced palmoplantar hyperkeratosis and skin cancers to predict risk of subsequent internal malignancy.

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Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.


Hyperpigmentation, hyperkeratoses, and Bowen's disease are hallmarks of chronic arsenic exposure. The association between arsenic-induced skin lesions and subsequent internal cancers is examined by using a community-based prospective study. The cohort was enrolled from an arseniasis-endemic area in southwestern Taiwan, where 2,447 residents participated in skin examinations during the late 1980s. The number of participants diagnosed with hyperpigmentation was 673; with hyperkeratosis, 243; and with skin cancer (Bowen's disease or non-melanoma skin cancer), 378. Newly diagnosed internal cancers were ascertained through linkage with National Cancer Registry profiles. Cox regression was performed to estimate hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals for potential risk predictors. Compared with participants without skin lesions, patients affected with skin cancers had a significantly increased risk of lung cancer (hazard ratio = 4.64, 95% confidence interval: 2.92, 7.38) and urothelial carcinoma (hazard ratio = 2.02, 95% confidence interval: 1.23, 3.30) after adjustment for potential confounders and cumulative arsenic exposure. Hyperkeratosis is significantly associated with an increased lung cancer risk (hazard ratio = 2.76, 95% confidence interval: 1.35, 5.67). A significant interactive effect on lung cancer risk between hyperkeratosis and cigarette smoking was identified, which suggests that patients with hyperkeratosis who have been exposed to arsenic should cease smoking.

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