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HomeAnswersDermatologyradiation therapyDoes radiation therapy increase the risk of having melanoma?

Does radiation therapy increase the risk of melanoma?

The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At November 9, 2016
Reviewed AtFebruary 19, 2024

Patient's Query

Hi doctor,

21 years ago, my friend had radiation therapy for a very small breast cancer. In the recent years, breast areola becomes dry. Biopsies revealed no cancer. She was followed closely by an oncologist and a dermatologist with number of tests. Recently, a mole appeared in the areola region. The dermatologist decided to take a biopsy after three months and the result is inconclusive. Her doctor said that it could be nothing or it could be some cancer named squamous skin cancer. She is afraid of melanoma, but the doctor said melanoma is extremely unlikely. She is very nervous and scared. I could not send pictures because my friend does not want to. What do you think? Please advice.


Welcome to icliniq.com.

Post radiation therapy, the skin does suffer a burnt both immediate as well as on a long term. Dryness, itching leading to oozing and crusting are very common complaints after radiotherapy and can start as late as 15 to 20 years too after the treatment. Radiation therapy does not increase the risk of melanoma. There are chances for basal cell carcinoma, which is much easier to treat and not life threatening. Squamous cell cancer also can occur, however, simple eczema needs to be ruled out even before thinking of the same. A negative biopsy is quite sensitive if chosen from the appropriate site. I would advise not to panic for the fear of melanoma and instead keep up with close follow-ups to note the course of the problem.

Differential diagnosis

1. Nipple eczema, post radiation.

2. Paget's disease (bone remodeling disorder).

3. Simple fungal infection.

Regarding follow up

For further information consult a dermatologist online.---> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Rakesh Kumar Bahunuthula
Dr. Rakesh Kumar Bahunuthula


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