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Side Effects of Cialis, Levitra May Also Be Tied to Increased Melanoma Risk

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Concerns have emerged over the past year about a potential link between Viagra and melanoma, leading to a growing number of lawsuits nationwide. However, similar side effects may also be associated with other medications that are part of the same class of erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Cialis and Levitra.

Following the publication of a study last year, many men are now pursuing a Viagra melanoma lawsuit against Pfizer, alleging that the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the risk of developing skin cancer following use of the medication.

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) is part of a class of medications known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5 ) inhibitors, which studies have suggested may reduce the body’s ability to fight cancer, increasing the rate at which it spreads. Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra (vardenafil) are two other medications that are part of the same class, which are also widely used medications and may potentially carry a similar risk.

The link between erectile dysfunction drugs and melanoma surfaced after a study was published by researchers from Harvard Medical School in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine in April 2014, which found that men who took Viagra were 84% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer than men who do not use the drug.

The Harvard study and other research prior to that have noted that there is a likely mechanism of action that can explain the increased melanoma risk with Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra. Researchers have noted that PDE5A is a cancer-fighting protein, and that the erectile dysfunction drugs lower both PDE5 and PDE5A. This could cause a reduction in the ability of the body to fight or contain cancer, allowing malignant melanoma cells to spread more rapidly.

As early as 2011, a study was published in the medical journal Cancer Cell which warned that PDE5 inhibitors could promote melanoma cell invasion. Another study published in the Journal of Cell Biochemistry in 2012 also found that PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra could exacerbate melanoma development.

In a study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers found that Viagra and other drugs that are part of a class of medications known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5 ) inhibitors were linked to a 32% increased risk of melanoma among white males. However, those researchers questioned whether there was a causal link.

Melanoma is a serious and potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society indicates that melanoma is diagnosed in about 69,000 Americans each year and causes about 8,650 deaths annually. The skin cancer usually manifests as unusual moles or patches of skin. While it is often curable if caught early, once melanoma has spread beyond the skin and local lymph nodes, treatment is difficult and it may ultimately result in death.

According to allegations raised in product liability lawsuits filed against Pfizer, the drug maker knew or should have known about the potential risk of melanoma, yet aggressively marketed the erectile dysfunction drug without warning men and the medical community about the importance of monitoring for symptoms of skin cancer. Plaintiffs allege that if they had been provided proper warnings, they may have avoided advanced stage melanoma by choosing not to use the medication or by carefully watching for changes on their skin. It appears likely that similar allegations could be raised in lawsuits against the makers of Cialis and Levitra.

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