Factors influencing the development of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma in patients on BRAF inhibitor therapy

Rachael Anforth, Alexander Menzies, Karen Byth, Giuliana Carlos, Shaun Chou, Raghwa Sharma, Richard A. Scolyer, Richard Kefford, Georgina V. Long, Pablo Fernandez-Peñas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Background BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) cause paradoxical activation of the MAPK pathway in keratinocytes resulting in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cuSCC). Objective We sought to examine the clinical factors involved in BRAFi-induced cuSCC development. Methods We studied 134 patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma treated with a BRAFi at Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia. Details of cuSCC development and associations with melanoma clinicopathologic features and treatment outcome were examined. Results In all, 32 (24%) patients developed 110 cuSCC after commencing treatment. In all, 61 (55%) cuSCC developed within the first 3 months. Age was the only independent risk factor for cuSCC development. After 3 months of therapy 4% of patients younger than 40 years developed cuSCC compared with 33% who were older than 60 years, and the hazard ratio of developing a cuSCC increased by 1.7 (95% confidence interval 1.3-2.3) per decade (P <.001). BRAFi cuSCC occurred more often in sun-protected areas (42%) compared with sporadic cuSCC (21%) (P <.001). cuSCC was not associated with progression-free survival. Limitations The study was from a single center and patients were also at risk of sporadic cuSCC. Conclusion Most BRAFi-induced cuSCC develop within 3 months of BRAFi therapy. The only independent risk factor is increasing age. cuSCC may present in anatomical locations with low ultraviolet exposure such that thorough dermatologic assessment is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9991
Pages (from-to)809-815
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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