Community Blog

Melanoma Risk Greater for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

By Debbie Humphrey

As if we didn’t have enough to be concerned about in Florida, a recent study published in Dermatologic Surgery shows a definite link between Parkinson’s Disease [PD] and melanoma.

Elderly woman is assisted by nurse at homeThe study validates data showing seniors with Parkinson’s Disease are at greater risk for acquiring melanoma, and vice versa. Considering the Sunshine State has a higher incidence of melanoma among its senior residents, ages 60 and over, and PD is estimated to affect one of every 100 seniors in the same age group, it is important to understand these two conditions and what can be done, if anything, to prevent them.

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder in the elderly, second only to Alzheimer’s, that is caused by the death of cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Dopamine serves as a neurotransmitter to the body to control voluntary and involuntary movement. Dopamine is also responsible for producing melanin.

Melanoma is an overgrowth of cells that produce melanin, or the pigment that colors skin, hair and eyes.
Although the exact factors correlating these two conditions are still under investigation, researchers at the University of Minnesota found a higher risk of developing PD among patients suffering from melanoma, as well as with those presenting with a “family history of melanoma, lighter hair and skin color, and certain environmental and genetic factors.”*

Of course, we have little or no control over environmental and genetic factors, there are ways seniors with Parkinson’s Disease can stay proactive to prevent melanoma:

• Avoid unnecessary exposure to UV rays, be it outdoors or in tanning beds and booths.
• When outdoors exercising, swimming, gardening, or whatever, always use plenty of high-SPF sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
• Be diligent about checking your skin for moles that are discolored, odd-shaped, or appear to be growing in size.
• It’s a good idea to see a dermatologist each year for a thorough exam.

For more information about Parkinson’s Disease and melanoma, call the professionals at Home Helpers. Compassionate caregivers are available 24/7, 365, to assist seniors with Parkinson’s Disease, and they will make sure their clients stay adequately protected from melanoma dangers here in sunny Florida! 727.942.2539

*Michael J. Fox Foundation News