Blood Pressure Medication Cancer Risk. According to Medical News Today, a new study out of Denmark has revealed that a popular drug used to treat hypertension may seriously increase the risk of skin cancer.
Anton Pottegård directed the study. Pottegård teaches clinical pharmacology at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. The study was printed in the Journal of the American Association of Dermatology.
In the study, researchers looked at the relationship between hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and skin cancer. Specifically, the research study examined the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer, also known as squamous cell carcinoma.
Previous research have concluded that there is a relationship between lip cancer and HCTZ use. One of Pottegård’s previous studies estimated that there 11 percent of lip cancer diagnoses could be traced back to HCTZ.
Further, HCTZ, like many medications, increases the user’s sensitivity to the sun, making the user more susceptible to skin damage. HCTZ has a photosensitizing effect.
Some hypothesize that HCTZ is the most commonly prescribed hypertension medication in the world.
Pottegård and his team studied HCTZ use in more than 80,000 non-melanoma skin cancer patients. These results were compared with a control group that contained 1.5 million individuals. The authors of the study also looked at a few other drugs that are prescribed to treat hypertension.
At the end of the study, Pottegård and his team determined that patients who used HCTZ were much more likely to develop skin cancer. In fact, they concluded that these individuals were up to seven times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer. The risk applied to both basal cell carcinoma, which is a less threatening type of skin cancer, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Additionally, the longer a patient took hydrochlorothiazide, the risk of developing skin cancer increased.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma comprises about 90 percent of skin cancer diagnoses in the United States. It is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer. In general, it grows slowly and rarely spreads throughout the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma, though it still does not often spread, as compared to other types of cancers, is more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma. With squamous cell carcinoma, the cancer cells may damage or destroy the surrounding tissues.
Interestingly, none of the other hypertension medications the researchers included in the study were associated with an increased risk of skin cancer.
Pottegård commented, “We knew that hydrochlorothiazide made the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s UV rays, but what is new and also surprising is that long-term use of this blood pressure medicine leads to such a significant increase in the risk of skin cancer.”
Dr. Armand B. Cognetta, Jr. co-authored the study. Dr. Cognetta is the chief of the division of dermatology at Florida State University. He commented, “We have seen and followed many patients with different skin cancers where the only risk apart from exposure to sunlight seems to be hydrochlorothiazide…The combination of living and residing in sunny Florida while taking hydrochlorothiazide seems to be very serious and even life-threatening for some patients. The research study conducted by Pottegård and his colleagues will have [a] great impact on skin cancer prevention and public health worldwide.”
However, Pottegård warned against banning HCTZ as a treatment option for hypertension. He noted that the risks of skin cancer must be balanced against the fact that hydrochlorothiazide has been successful in treating hypertension in many patients. Regardless, some patients may wish to discuss different treatment options with their doctors.
What are the signs of skin cancer?
If caught early, the chances of successfully treating skin cancer are good.
Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on areas that have frequently been exposed to sunlight. It may appear as pink bumps that have sunken centers, a pearly or waxy appearance, or irregular blood vessels on their surface. Additionally, these spots may bleed easily after being bumped or scraped.
Squamous cell carcinoma also most often develops on parts of the body that have sustained a high amount of sun exposure. Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as a thick, crusty scale or as an ulcerated lesion. Raised bumps that are dull red in color may also appear.
Anyone experiencing these, or similar symptoms should see their doctor or obtain a referral to see a dermatologist as soon as possible.
What if I took the medication and did not know it would increase my risk of cancer?
If you were prescribed medication and unknowingly increased your risk of developing cancer, you may be entitled to damages if you demonstrate that the medication caused your injuries. If you were prescribed a medication that increased your risk for a certain condition, but you never experienced any complications or negative side effects caused by the medication, you will not be entitled to damages. It is imperative that you speak with an experienced attorney who knows what evidence must be presented in your case to support your claims.
Drug injury claims are included under products liability claims. Products liability claims allege that a product includes at least one of the following defects:
- Manufacturing defects, which occur at some point as a product is being produced or assembled;
- Design defects, which refer to a defect within the design of the product itself; or
- Marketing defects, which include a failure to warn about injuries that may occur after using a product, or a failure to include proper instructions with a product
Depending on the nature of the claim, all three types of product defects may be present. Each defect must be supported by valid, objective evidence.
Types of evidence commonly included in drug injury claims are:
- Medical records
- Expert medical witness reports
- Internal company records
- FDA records
- Video footage
- Witness statements
- Lost wages documentation
- Estimates for the cost of future medical care
Other types of evidence may also be submitted, so long as it is relevant to the claim.
Drug injury claims often take many months or longer to resolve. With the assistance of an experienced drug injury attorney, claimants may focus on recovering from their injuries while their attorneys fight on their behalf in the courtroom.
The damages an injured individual may be entitled to upon prevailing in a drug injury claim include:
- Medical expenses
- The cost of future medical care
- Lost wages due to time missed from work
- Loss of consortium
- The expense of making alterations to a residence, such as installing stair lifts or wheelchair ramps
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- If a company’s behavior was especially egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded
The odds of prevailing in a drug injury case and obtaining damages increase significantly when the injured victim hires an attorney. Drug injury claims are particularly complex and often require a thorough knowledge of state and federal court systems, as well as the anatomy and physiology of the human body.
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At Parker Waichman LLP, our attorneys are highly experienced in drug injury claims. At Parker Waichman LLP, we are not afraid to take on massive, well-financed drug manufacturers when they injure innocent consumers. During your free consultation with Parker Waichman LLP, our legal professionals will explain your legal options. To schedule your consultation, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today.