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Melanoma Res. 1996 Dec;6(6):435-40.

Cutaneous malignant melanoma in women is uncommonly associated with a family history of melanoma in first-degree relatives: a case-control study.

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Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal General Hospital, Quebec, Canada.


Sun exposure is the principal cause of malignant melanoma, but other risk factors may be important. During their reproductive years women are at a greater risk for melanoma than men. We performed an age-matched case-control study of cutaneous malignant melanoma in 159 women attending a single oncology clinic in Montreal. A reported family history of cutaneous malignant melanoma in first-degree relatives was associated with a significantly increased risk of melanoma (adjusted relative risk: 4.28, P = 0.046). No subject was a member of a hereditary melanoma family (three or more cases of melanoma in first-degree relatives). As expected, variables related to sun exposure were also strong determinants of risk. Height was a significant risk factor, but the difference between the mean heights of cases and controls was only 2 cm (P = 0.009). The age of menarche of cases was lower than in controls (mean 12.70 and 13.08 years respectively, P = 0.036) but there was no significant elevation in risk associated with other reproductive variables. This study suggests that a family history of malignant melanoma is a significant risk factor, but that hereditary melanoma may be less common than is currently believed.

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