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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2010 Jan;24(1):50-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2009.03353.x. Epub 2009 Jun 26.

Smoking, sun exposure, number of nevi and previous neoplasias are risk factors for melanoma in older patients (60 years and over).

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Department of Dermatology, Instituto Valenciano de Oncología, Valencia, Spain.



Malignant melanoma risk factors have been studied in different geographical area populations. However, no study has focused on risk factors which are more frequently associated to the over 60's age group.


A case-control study was performed that included 160 patients age > or = 60 years diagnosed of cutaneous melanoma and 318 controls matched for age and sex. Both groups were assessed, by personal interview and physical examination, for different phenotype characteristics (hair and eye color, phototype), the presence of other cutaneous lesions (solar lentigines, actinic keratoses and nevi), degree and type of solar exposure and personal and family past history of cutaneous or non-cutaneous cancer. Differences were evaluated by contingency tables and univariate and multivariate logistic regression.


Of 17 factors, those risk factors with a strong effect on the development of melanoma in the elderly were: fair eyes, severe sunburns, years of occupational sun exposure, smoking, > 50 melanocytic nevi and personal history of NMSC and other non-cutaneous neoplasias.


Tobacco smoking is an independent risk factor for cutaneous melanoma in the elderly. Intense (both acute and chronic) sun exposure and constitutional features, such as tumor susceptibility (NMSC, non-cutaneous neoplasias, and multiple nevi) are also associated with melanoma risk. All these factors should help to better design educational campaigns in older people.

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