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What’s the Connection Between Melanoma and Parkinson’s Disease?

According to new research, people with Parkinson’s are at a higher risk of melanoma. Anchorage senior care experts from Home Care Assistance present the following information to help families and caregivers understand the connection between Parkinson’s disease and melanoma.

What is Melanoma?
Malignant melanoma is a rare and very dangerous form of skin cancer that is treatable if detected in the early stages but can be fatal if it progresses undiagnosed. Melanoma usually presents as a mole, particularly one that is unevenly shaped, does not look like other moles on the body, or has uneven coloring.

What’s the Link to Parkinson’s Disease?
While the relationship between skin cancer and Parkinson’s is not well known or understood, studies show that Parkinson’s may make seniors as much as four times more likely to develop melanoma than the general population. Previous research thought that Parkinson’s medications might cause melanoma, but current research suggests melanoma and Parkinson’s share genetic and biological characteristics.

So What Can I Do About It?
Currently, there is no way to prevent melanoma in people with Parkinson’s, but there are steps that can put the odds in your loved one’s favor.

Know the signs of melanoma. A new, unusual, or changing mole on the skin could be a danger sign. Learn what to look for, and be sure that you or a caregiver regularly examine your loved one’s skin, including checking in the fingernail beds, on the scalp, and on the bottom of feet. If you or a Parkinson’s caregiver in Anchorage notice a growing mole on your loved one’s skin, consult a doctor for further screening.

Keep regular dermatologist appointments. Annual skin screenings by a qualified dermatologist are among the most important health screenings for people with Parkinson’s because they can lead to early melanoma detection. The chances of successfully treating melanoma are best when begun in its earliest stages.

Use year-round sun protection. Make it a daily habit to apply high SPF sunscreen to your loved one’s exposed skin any time he or she will be in the sun.

If you have an aging parent or loved one who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, educating yourself about the risks associated with the disease will help to ensure his or her health, wellness, and quality of life as the disease progresses. Home Care Assistance is a proud provider of high-caliber Parkinson’s home care, as well as premier care for other neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia care and Alzheimer’s care in Anchorage. To learn more about in-home Parkinson’s care or our other care options, give a Care Manager a call at (907) 770-0907.