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Psoriasis : peut-il se transformer en cancer ?

Can psoriasis turn into cancer?

Psoriasis is a skin disease characterized by skin covered with red patches and scales. According to some studies, individuals with psoriasis may be more likely to develop cancer. Is this really the case? We will provide some answers in this article.

Published February 19, 2024, by Manon, Scientific Editor — 4 min read

What are the causes of the onset of psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a systemic and chronic inflammatory skin eruption. It presents as thick, red plaques that shed. Psoriasis is characterized by an excessive renewal and accumulation of epidermal cells, leading to local inflammation. This disease primarily affects adults, with a peak onset typically between 20 and 40 years of age. Approximately 30% of cases are considered familial and appear during adolescence. When psoriasis appears after the age of 40, it is referred to as isolated or sporadic forms. However, it affects both sexes equally.

Skin inflammation is caused by a failure of the immune system. T lymphocytes produce inflammatory molecules (IL-17, IL-22, TNF-α, among others). These molecules stimulate the proliferation of keratinocytes. When the skin cell renewal period, which is normally about three weeks, is accelerated to just three days, it results in an accumulation of immature keratinocytes on the skin's surface. The consequences are an increase in the thickness of the outer layer of the skin, known as the horny layer, and is referred to as hyperkeratosis.

Can psoriasis turn into cancer?

A study published in October 2019 in the journal JAMA Dermatology asserts that psoriasis increases the risk of developing cancer. The researchers found that the cancer risk rate for individuals with psoriasis is 1.18 times higher than that of healthy individuals. However, this risk can vary depending on the severity of the psoriasis. People with severe psoriasis have a 1.22 times higher risk of developing cancer compared to a population without psoriasis. On the other hand, no significant increase in cancer mortality risk was observed regardless of the severity of psoriasis. The primary cancers developed are kidney cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and laryngeal cancer. Moreover, a severe form of skin cancer can appear, such as lymphoma or melanoma. Additionally, the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma is twice as high as the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.

The cause of cancer development in a psoriasis patient is often associated with the treatment of the disease. This treatment impacts the immune system, particularly the use of immunomodulators. They can increase the risk of cancer due to their mechanism of action that weakens the immune system. This leads to a decrease in the body's ability to detect and eliminate cancer cells, promoting their multiplication. The treatment of psoriasis by phototherapy increases the risk of developing a squamous cell carcinoma or a basal cell carcinoma. Exposure to ultraviolet rays, especially UVB rays, can damage the DNA of skin cells. When this DNA is damaged, it can lead to genetic mutations which, in some cases, can result in the development of cancer cells.

Note : This research is based on a set of studies that were conducted independently and differently, accounting for the disparity in some of their results. Additional studies are necessary to draw comprehensive conclusions about the link between psoriasis and the development of cancer.


  • TRAFFORD A. M. & al. Association of psoriasis with the risk of developing or dying of cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Dermatology (2019).


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