Human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) have been shown to play a role in the malignant transformation and progression of a variety of cancers. HGH is also known to upregulate molecular signaling pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of melanoma. Although HGH has previously been implicated in promoting the clinical growth of both benign and malignant melanocytic neoplasms, to our knowledge there are no conclusive studies demonstrating an increased risk of melanoma following HGH therapy. Nevertheless, there are reports of melanoma developing subsequent to HGH coadministered with either other hormones or following irradiation.
A 49-year-old white man presented with a new pigmented papule that was diagnosed as melanoma. The patient reported using HGH for 3 months prior to the diagnosis. His 51-year-old wife, who also was white, had also been using exogenous HGH for 3 months and had been diagnosed as having a melanoma 2 weeks prior.
Given the unlikelihood of 2 unrelated people developing melanoma within a short time span, it is reasonable to assume that a common environmental component (HGH or other shared exposure) contributed to the development of both melanomas. Because of the increased use of exogenous HGH as an antiaging agent, it is important to be aware of the growth-promoting effects of this hormone. Until better data are available that determines the true risk of exogenous HGH, its use as an antiaging agent merits increased surveillance.