Author(s): Siskind V, Aitken J, Green A, Martin N
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Abstract Sun exposure is the main environmental risk factor for melanoma, but the timing of exposure during life that confers increased risk is controversial. Here we provide the first report of the association between lifetime and age-specific cumulative ultraviolet exposure and cutaneous melanoma in Queensland, Australia, an area of high solar radiation, and examine the association separately for families at high, intermediate and low familial melanoma risk. Subjects were a population-based sample of melanoma cases diagnosed and registered in Queensland between 1982 and 1990 and their relatives. The analysis included 1,263 cases and relatives with confirmed cutaneous melanoma and 3,111 first-degree relatives without melanoma as controls. Data on lifetime residence and sun exposure, family history and other melanoma risk factors were collected by a mailed questionnaire. Using conditional multiple logistic regression with stratification by family, cumulative sun exposure in childhood and in adulthood after age 20 was significantly associated with melanoma, with estimated relative risks of 1.15 per 5,000 minimal erythemal doses (MEDs) from age 5 to 12 years, and 1.52 per 5 MEDs/day from age 20. There was no association with sun exposure in families at high familial melanoma risk. History of nonmelanoma skin cancer (relative risk [RR] = 1.26) and multiple sunburns (RR = 1.31) were significant risk factors. These findings indicate that sun exposure in childhood and in adulthood are important determinants of melanoma but not in those rare families with high melanoma susceptibility, in which genetic factors are likely to be more important. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
This article was published in Int J Cancer
and referenced in Hereditary Genetics: Current Research