Hydrochlorothiazide treatment and risk of non-melanoma skin cancer: Review of the literature

Skin Cancer

Garrido PM and Borges-Costa J. Rev Port Cardiol 2020 - Review.


Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most prevalent malignancy in fair-skinned people and its incidence is increasing. Recently, studies have suggested that antihypertensive drugs may increase the risk of these tumors, particularly hydrochlorothiazide, due to its photosensitizing properties. The Portuguese National Authority for Medicines and Health Products, INFARMED, has issued an alert to healthcare professionals concerning the increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in patients exposed to

cumulative doses of this drug. However, study results have been heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting. The high incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer and the large number of patients under chronic hydrochlorothiazide therapy may thus have important public health consequences. In this article, the authors review the published evidence and conclude that there may be an association between hydrochlorothiazide use and the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, but also point out some limitations of the studies in the literature. It is important to promote preventive strategies against sun exposure, regular skin examinations, and individual assessment of the benefits of hydrochlorothiazide use, particularly in patients with previous skin cancer.