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November 2001

Genetic Epidemiology of Cutaneous Melanoma: A Global Perspective

Author Affiliations

From the Genetic Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Dermatol. 2001;137(11):1493-1496. doi:10.1001/archderm.137.11.1493

Cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) results from the interaction of genetic, host, and environmental influences. Epidemiologic studies of melanoma have shown that the major environmental risk factor is UV radiation. The exposure-response relationship, however, seems complex, with intermittent sun exposure likely to be more important for risk than total lifetime exposure (for a review, see Armstrong and English1). The host factors most strongly associated with melanoma are melanocytic nevi (moles), both clinically banal and atypical (dysplastic).1,2 Other host factors implicated in melanoma include fair hair color, light eye color, increased freckling, and an inability to tan. Nonmelanoma skin cancer (basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma) also increases the risk for melanoma.1