Is Psoriasis Linked to Cancer?


Psoriasis is a skin disease that affects approximately 7.5 million people in the United States. It is an immune-mediated disease that causes red, scaly patches on the skin due to systemic inflammation. There are several different types of psoriasis and though they are all treatable, there is no known cure for psoriasis yet. Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting is home to board-certified dermatologists who are renowned experts in psoriasis and have been involved in researching this bothersome skin affliction.

Psoriasis Concerns Beyond Itchy Skin

Dealing with the uncomfortable side effects of psoriasis is pesky for most people who have it—but does the presence of those itchy, bumpy rashes mean something more serious? Research and data show that psoriasis has several common comorbidities including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Newer studies are investigating the correlation between psoriasis and cancer, especially skin cancer. Findings indicate that while individuals with psoriasis are not at a higher risk of dying from cancer, individuals with severe psoriasis have elevated risks of developing some cancers. Focusing on supporting your overall health, including reducing chronic inflammation and bolstering the immune system, is an important step to take in reducing your risks of developing cancer if you have psoriasis.

Reducing Cancer Risks for People with Psoriasis

Anyone with psoriasis should be under the routine care of a board-certified dermatologist. Even if your psoriasis patches are not exceedingly bothersome, you should still be seen by a dermatologist regularly to reduce and manage risks of developing skin cancer. Your dermatologist can help troubleshoot what your individual triggers of psoriasis are and suggest ways to avoid them. People with psoriasis should also avoid smoking, excessive drinking and eating inflammatory foods. These stressors on the body can trigger psoriasis flares, but they are also detrimental to overall health. Staying hydrated, exercising, eating healthily, sleeping adequately and taking steps toward reducing stress are important aspects of reducing cancer risks for people with psoriasis.

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Safe Treatments for Psoriasis

Psoriasis can be difficult to treat because, unlike many skin conditions that are triggered by external irritants, it is a disease linked to an internal immune response and subsequent inflammation. In addition to identifying psoriasis triggers and making lifestyle changes to avoid them, there are treatments for psoriasis that range from topical creams to phototherapy treatments to medications that target the immune pathway that causes psoriasis. Although phototherapy can be a worthwhile treatment for psoriasis, it has been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer. If you and your dermatologist agree that the benefits of phototherapy are worth the skin cancer risks, it is critical for patients to wear sunscreen and protective coverings to decrease the risk of skin cancer caused by increased UV exposure.

What to Do If You Have Psoriasis

If you have psoriasis, establishing care with a board-certified dermatologist with expertise in psoriasis is essential. In addition to prescribing treatments for your psoriasis flares, your dermatologist can help you identify ways to avoid flares in general. Dermatologists can also help explain how to spot symptoms that may warrant evaluation.

Early detection and treatment can be effective in reducing cancer risks. Monitoring your blood pressure, blood glucose, weight and other health indicators is important in managing associated risks that come with having psoriasis. Your quality of life matters—and managing your psoriasis can enhance your health and vitality more than you may realize. It may also extend your lifespan.

Schedule an appointment today with one of our board-certified dermatologists, who can help assess and mitigate serious health risks if you have psoriasis by calling 610.828.0400.