Erectile Dysfunction Medications and Skin Cancer: An Analysis in US Veterans


This study examines the relationship in veterans between a specific type of drug and skin cancers.


Objective To examine the relationship between phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor drugs (PDE5i) and skin cancers in a large-scale study of Veterans. Methods This was a retrospective database review using the Department of Veterans Affairs Informatics and Computing Infrastructure database. Veterans Affairs Informatics and Computing Infrastructure was searched 19 years for Veterans who received PDE5i treatment of erectile dysfunction. A non-PDE5i group of Veterans was selected for comparison analysis. Follow-up time, outpatient clinic visits and incidence of malignant melanoma (MM), and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) were measured in both groups. Results A total of 2.55 million Veterans were included in this study (1.27 million in each group). Mean age of the PDE5i group and non-PDE5i group was 59.2 years (standard deviation [SD] ± 10.8) and 58.7 (SD ± 10.8), respectively. Mean follow-up time for the PDE5i group was 8.9 years (SD ± 4.2) and 8.5 years (SD ± 4.3) for non-PDE5i group. Odds ratio for malignant melanoma and BCC in the PDE5i group was 1.25 (confidence interval 95%, 1.22-1.28, P <.0001) and 1.49 (confidence interval 95%, 1.46-1.51, P <.0001), respectively. PDE5i users showed more mean outpatient visits/year (8.9 SD ± 9.50) compared to non-PDE5i users (5.9 SD ± 10.0; P <.0001). Conclusion Veterans prescribed PDE5is to treat erectile show a minimal increased risk of MM and a greater risk of BCC compared to non-PDE5i users. PDE5i users visited outpatient VA clinics at a higher rate than non-PDE5i users in this study. These findings suggest confounding variables are likely involved in the relationship between skin cancers and PDE5i use. PDE5i drugs remain a safe treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Full Reference

Christie, A., Vera, P. L., Higgins, M., Kumar, S., Lane, M. and Preston, D., 2019. Erectile Dysfunction Medications and Skin Cancer: An Analysis in US Veterans. Urology, 126, pp. 116-120.