Skin Cancer and UVB Phototherapy
What is the risk of skin cancer with UVB phototherapy?
Unlike ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight and
cosmetic tanning lamps, many decades of use in dermatology
has shown that UVB/UVB-Narrowband phototherapy (which has
UVA substantially excluded) is not a major risk for skin cancer;
including basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
and cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM).
To support this statement, please consider
the following study excerpts, and the discussion that follows:
A retrospective cohort study published in December 2023 called
Incidence and profile of skin cancers in patients following ultraviolet phototherapy without psoralens concluded:
“In total, 3506 patients treated with broadband-ultraviolet-B, narrowband-UVB and/or combined UVAB were assessed with a mean follow-up of 7.3 years concluded there was no increased risk of melanoma and keratinocyte cancer was found with phototherapy”
A new study published in August 2022 from Vancouver (Incidence of skin cancers in patients with eczema treated with ultraviolet phototherapy) concludes that:
“Overall, other than for patients with a history of taking immunosuppressive therapy†, there was no increased risk of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or basal cell carcinoma in patients receiving ultraviolet phototherapy, including narrowband UVB, broadband UVB, and concurrent UVA plus broadband UVB, supporting this as a non-carcinogenic treatment for patients with atopic eczema.”
“Reviews of studies on UVB, both narrowband and broadband, do not indicate any increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer or melanoma.”
To read the full study, follow this link:
Patel RV1, Clark LN, Lebwohl M, Weinberg JM.
“In this large study, with follow-up of up to 22 years from first treatment with NB-UVB, we did not find any definite association between NB-UVB treatment and BCC, SCC or melanoma skin cancer.”
“No increased risk of skin cancer was evidenced in the four studies specifically assessing the potential carcinogenic risk of NB-UVB.”
Archier E1, Devaux S, Castela E, Gallini A, Aubin F, Le Maître M, Aractingi S, Bachelez H, Cribier B, Joly P, Jullien D, Misery L, Paul C, Ortonne JP, Richard MA.
“There were no statistically significant differences between the nbUVB and control groups. Thus, nbUVB phototherapy using TL-01 lamps seems to be a safe therapeutic modality for patients with skin phototypes III-V.”
Jo SJ1, Kwon HH, Choi MR, Youn JI.
“Dr. Lebwohl says. “At least so far, it appears that narrowband UVB does not contribute to skin cancer. Nonetheless, in patients who are cancer-prone, we are cautious about the use of phototherapy.”
“Thus, the present study does not provide evidence for an increased skin cancer risk for patients treated with either broadband or narrowband UVB phototherapy”
Weischer M1, Blum A, Eberhard F, Röcken M, Berneburg M.
“(UVB-Narrowband) Phototherapy is safe and easy to perform. Although complications can include sunburn, we are not seeing any skin cancers, melanoma or non-melanoma. Vitiligo is probably protective for melanoma.”
“Despite concerns over the carcinogenic potential of ultraviolet radiation, most studies have not found an increased risk of non-melanoma or melanoma skin cancer in patients treated with ultraviolet B (broadband and narrowband) and ultraviolet A1 phototherapy.”
Valejo Coelho MM1, Apetato M2.