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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):2015-22.

Etiologic and other factors predicting nevus-associated cutaneous malignant melanoma.

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  • 1Division of Preventive Oncology, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, Canada.


Cutaneous malignant melanomas with histologic evidence of an associated nevus (N+) may have a different risk factor profile from that of melanomas without it (N-). To address this question, a case-only analysis of 932 people with cutaneous malignant melanoma was done to identify etiologic and other factors associated with N+ melanoma. Evidence of an associated nevus was found in 36% of melanomas. N+ melanomas were thinner (Ptrend=0.0009) and more likely to be of the superficial spreading type than other types of melanoma. Subjects with N+ melanomas were younger (Ptrend<0.0001) and reported a higher nevus density on their skin than subjects with N- melanomas [odds ratio (OR), 3.1; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.6-6.0, for high nevus density versus no nevi]. Indicators of high accumulated sun exposure were less prevalent among subjects with N+ melanomas (OR, 0.3; 95% CI, 0.2-0.4, for melanoma location on the head and neck versus location on trunk; OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1-0.4, for severe solar elastosis adjacent to the melanoma versus no elastosis; OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1-0.4, for lentigo maligna melanoma subtype versus superficial spreading subtype). With the exception of solar elastosis and age, all of the aforementioned variables remained significantly associated with N+ melanomas in multivariate analyses. No associations with self-reported measures of sun exposure, sunburn, or pigmentation phenotype were apparent. Our findings provide some support for the hypothesis of etiologically separate pathways for melanoma, with N+ melanomas appearing less likely to develop in the presence of characteristics suggesting high accumulated sun exposure than N- melanomas. However, it is possible that high UV exposure causes involution of nevi, thus reducing the density of nevi in exposed skin and thereby the probability of N+ melanoma.

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