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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Mar;5(3):423-34. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0460. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Risk factors for malignant melanoma in white and non-white/non-African American populations: the multiethnic cohort.

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  • 1Epidemiology Program, University of Hawaii Cancer Center, 1236 Lauhala Street, Suite 407, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA. lpark@cc.hawaii.edu


It is unknown whether the established risk factors for malignant melanoma in whites influence malignant melanoma risk in non-whites. We examined the risk factors for melanoma among 39,325 whites and 101,229 non-whites/multiracials [Japanese American (47.5%), Latino American (34.8%), Native Hawaiian (2.1%), and multiracial (15.6%), excluding African Americans] in the Multiethnic Cohort study. With an average follow-up of 12.7 years, 581 invasive malignant melanoma (IMM) and 412 melanoma in situ (MIS) cases were identified, of which 107 IMM and 74 MIS were among non-whites/multiracials. The relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by Cox proportional hazards models using days from cohort entry as the underlying time variable. Among non-white/multiracial males, location of IMM tumors differed from those of white males (P < 0.001); and non-white/multiracial females were more likely to be diagnosed with later stage of disease (P < 0.001). After adjusting for potential confounders, age at cohort entry, male sex, higher education, and sunburn susceptibility phenotypes were associated with an increased risk of IMM in non-whites/multiracials (P < 0.05). The risk estimates for age at cohort entry and lighter hair and eye color were greater in non-whites/multiracials than in whites (P(heterogeneity) = 0.062, 0.016, and 0.005, respectively). For MIS risk, RRs between whites and non-whites/multiracials also differed for study location and education (P(heterogeneity) ≤ 0.015). In conclusion, similar to whites, age at cohort entry, male sex, and susceptibility to sunburn phenotypes may be predictive of malignant melanoma risk in non-white populations excluding African Americans.

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