Associations of pigmentary and naevus phenotype with melanoma risk in two populations with comparable ancestry but contrasting levels of ambient sun exposure

A. E. Cust*, M. Drummond, D. T. Bishop, L. Azizi, H. Schmid, M. A. Jenkins, J. L. Hopper, B. K. Armstrong, J. F. Aitken, R. F. Kefford, G. G. Giles, F. Demenais, A. M. Goldstein, J. H. Barrett, P. A. Kanetsky, D. E. Elder, G. J. Mann, J. A. Newton-Bishop

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Background: People at high risk of developing melanoma are usually identified by pigmentary and naevus phenotypes. Objective: We examined whether associations of these phenotypes with melanoma risk differed by ambient sun exposure or participant characteristics in two population-based, case–control studies with comparable ancestry but different ambient sun exposure. Methods: Data were analysed from 616 cases and 496 controls from the Australian Melanoma Family Study and 2012 cases and 504 controls from the Leeds (UK) case–control study. Questionnaire, interview and dermatological skin examination data were collected using the same measurement protocols. Relative risks were estimated as odds ratios using unconditional logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders. Results: Hair and skin colour were the strongest pigmentary phenotype risk factors. All associations of pigmentary phenotype with melanoma risk were similar across countries. The median number of clinically assessed naevi was approximately three times higher in Australia than Leeds, but the relative risks for melanoma associated with each additional common or dysplastic naevus were higher for Leeds than Australia, especially for naevi on the upper and lower limbs. Higher naevus counts on the head and neck were associated with a stronger relative risk for melanoma for women than men. The two countries had similar relative risks for melanoma based on self-reported naevus density categories, but personal perceptions of naevus number differed by country. There was no consistent evidence of interactions between phenotypes on risk. Conclusions: Classifying people at high risk of melanoma based on their number of naevi should ideally take into account their country of residence, type of counts (clinical or self-reported), body site on which the naevus counts are measured and sex. The presence of naevi may be a stronger indicator of a genetic predisposition in the UK than in Australia based on less opportunity for sun exposure to influence naevus development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1874-1885
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
    Issue number10
    Early online date13 May 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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