Indexed on: 18 Jul '17Published on: 18 Jul '17Published in: Oncology reports
Non‑melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common form of cancer worldwide, comprising 95% of all cutaneous malignancies and approximately 40% of all cancers. In spite of intensive efforts aimed towards awareness campaigns and sun‑protective measures, epidemiological data indicate an increase in the incidence of NMSC. This category of skin cancers has many common environmental triggers. Arising primarily on sun‑exposed skin, it has been shown that ultraviolet radiation is, in the majority of cases, the main trigger involved in the pathogenesis of NMSC. Aside from the well‑known etiopathogenic factors, studies have indicated that several neuroactive factors are involved in the carcinogenesis of two of the most common types of NMSC, namely basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), with the exception of penile SCC, for which a paucity of specific data on their pathogenic role exists. The complex interaction between the peripheral nervous system and target cells in the skin appears to be mediated by locally released neuroendocrine factors, such as catecholamines, substance P, calcitonin gene‑related peptide and somatostatin, as well as neurohormones, such as proopiomelanocortin and its derived peptides, α‑melanocyte‑stimulating hormone and adrenocorticotropin. All these factors have been, at least at some point, a subject of debate regarding their precise role in the pathogenesis of NMSC. There is also a significant body of evidence indicating that psychological stress is a crucial impact factor influencing the course of skin cancers, including SCC and BCC. Numerous studies have suggested that neuroendocrine factor dysregulation, as observed in stress reactions, may be involved in tumorigenesis, accelerating the development and progression, and suppressing the regression of NMSC. Further studies are required in order to elucidate the exact mechanisms through which neuroactive molecules promote or inhibit cutaneous carcinogenesis, as this could lead to the development of more sophisticated and tailored treatment protocols, as well as open new perspectives in skin cancer research.