Researchers from the Mayo Clinic may have found a link between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cutaneous malignancies.

The study, published in Retina, found patients with AMD—both wet and dry—had increased rates of overall malignancy, specifically cutaneous keratinocytic and melanocytic malignancies, compared with subjects without AMD.

The investigation was a retrospective, consecutive review of all patients who had received at least one intravitreal injection for wet AMD between 2004 and 2013. The records came from the database of the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Olmsted County, Minn. The investigation included 473 untreated wet AMD patients seen before the age of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), 504 AMD patients who received at least one anti-VEGF injection and 504 patients without AMD. Researchers compared the rates of AMD and overall malignancy, cutaneous malignancies and specific types of cutaneous malignancies between the three groups.

The study found patients with wet AMD had an increased rate of overall malignancies compared with patients with dry AMD (52.8% vs. 43.7%). The wet AMD group also had higher malignancy rates compared with the control group (52.8% vs. 35.3%). Patients with dry AMD also exhibited higher malignancy rates than the healthy eye group.

Additionally, the wet AMD group had an increased rate of cutaneous malignancies (24.4%) compared with the dry AMD group (14.6%) and the non-AMD group (9.7%). 

“Patients with AMD with suspicious cutaneous lesions should undergo formal dermatologic evaluation. Similarly, physicians should include dilated funduscopy to rule out AMD as part of their evaluation when examining skin cancer patients with visual symptoms,” the researchers said in their paper. “Future studies must be conducted to understand the common mechanism responsible for the link between these two diseases, to address the aforementioned limitations, and to study the presence of this association in a broader, more diverse population.”

This is the first report to establish an association between AMD and cutaneous malignancies, supporting a possible discussion of the association when a patient presents with one of the two conditions, the investigators added.

Shah SM, Starr MR, Dalvin LA, et al. Increased incidence of cutaneous keratinocytic and melanocytic malignancies in patients with age-related macular degeneration. Retina. April 3, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].