Potential of Using Vitamin D as an Adjuvant Treatment of Malignant Melanoma


Klin Onkol 2017; 30(5): 327-336. DOI: 10.14735/amko2017327.

The incidence of malignant melanoma worldwide continues to grow despite the enormous advances in topical and systemic therapy. This increase is recorded regularly even in countries where, as a result of public health campaigns, dermatological examination and subsequent treatment have become more frequent. However, there have been reports of a stable or even decreasing mortality rate that seem to contradict the objective increase in its incidence. The well-known risk factors for malignant melanoma include sunburns and occasional sunbathing, whereas regular sunbathing is associated with a lower incidence. Besides DNA damage, exposure to the sun also results in the synthesis of vitamin D (cholecalciferol) in the skin, which contributes to over 90% of circulating Calcidiol (25 (OH) D) in serum. Current cultural norms (dressing, working indoors, avoiding sun exposure, and dietary choices) affect the serum vitamin D level, resulting in severely low serum levels of vitamin D in some sectors of today’s society. Emerging data suggests that mild, unprotected exposure to UV radiation or dietary supplementation with oral vitamin D can reduce cancer mortality. Supplementation with vitamin D or alternatively UV exposure may be regarded as an adjuvant for the treatment of many types of tumors (e. g. tumors of the colon, prostate, and breast). The effect of vitamin D on malignant melanoma may be due to its non-calcemic systemic effects. Additionally, vitamin D may have more pronounced effects locally in the skin because of the unique ability of keratinocytes to synthesize the active form of vitamin D.


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