Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer

Date:
July 23, 2014
Source:
Temple University Health System
Summary:
Asking patients if a suspicious skin lesion is painful or itchy may help doctors decide whether the spot is likely to be cancerous, according to a new study. The study found that nearly 36.9 percent of skin cancer lesions are accompanied by itching, while 28.2 percent involve pain. the findings are important because skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed in two million people annually in the U.S.A.

Asking patients if a suspicious skin lesion is painful or itchy may help doctors decide whether the spot is likely to be cancerous, according to a new study headed by Gil Yosipovitch, MD, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Temple University School of Medicine.

Related Articles


The study, published online by JAMA Dermatology on July 23, 2014, found that nearly 36. 9 percent of skin cancer lesions are accompanied by itching, while 28.2 percent involve pain. Non-melanoma skin cancers -- specifically, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma -- are more likely than melanoma to involve itch or pain, the study found.

"The study highlights the importance of a simple bedside evaluation for the presence and intensity of pain or itch as an easily implementable tool for clinicians in evaluating suspicious skin lesions," concluded the study.

Dr. Yosipovitch, Director of the Temple Itch Center, said the findings are important because skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed in two million people annually in this country.

"Patients sometimes have multiple lesions that are suspicious looking, and those that are itchy or painful should raise high concerns for non-melanoma skin cancers," Dr. Yosipovitch said.

The study involved 268 patients who had 339 laboratory-confirmed skin cancer lesions at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center from July 2010 to March 2011.

After undergoing a skin biopsy, the patients were asked to complete a numerical ranking scale to quantify the intensity of itch and pain associated with their skin lesion. The scale, called a visual analog scale, or VAS, went from zero (no sensation) to 10 (the most intense sensation imaginable).

When the researchers compared the patients' responses to their biopsy results, they found that:

  • The prevalence of itch was greatest in squamous cell carcinoma (46.6 percent), followed by basal cell carcinoma (31.9 percent) and melanoma (14.8 percent).
  • Pain prevalence was greatest in squamous cell carcinoma (42.5 percent), followed by basal cell carcinoma (19.9 percent) and melanoma (3.7 percent).
  • Pain and itch often went hand in hand: 45.6 percent of lesions associated with itch also had pain; and 60 percent of painful lesions also involved itch.
  • The most painful lesions tended to be those with the greatest depth (except for melanoma lesions, which did not correlate with pain). Pain and itch was also associated with lesions that were larger in diameter. Cancers that were ulcerated (sores or open wounds) tended to be associated with pain but not with itch.
  • Pain and/or itch were more likely to be present when the laboratory analysis of the skin lesion sample suggested a marked or moderate degree of inflammation as compared to mild or no inflammation.

Dr. Yosipovitch said he hopes the study findings will prompt dermatologists to incorporate the use of a ranking scale for pain and itch when evaluating patients with suspicious skin lesions. "This could increase the detection of skin lesions that are cancerous," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Temple University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gil Yosipovitch, Kyle C. Mills, Leigh A. Nattkemper, Ashley Feneran, Tey Hong Liang, Brett M. Lowenthal, Daniel J. Pearce, Phillip M. Williford, Omar P. Sangueza, Ralph B. D’Agostino. Association of Pain and Itch With Depth of Invasion and Inflammatory Cell Constitution in Skin Cancer. JAMA Dermatology, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.895

Cite This Page:

Temple University Health System. "Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723162042.htm>.
Temple University Health System. (2014, July 23). Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723162042.htm
Temple University Health System. "Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723162042.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins