Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV vol:19 issue:3 pages:332-9
BACKGROUND: Although numerous studies have evaluated risk factors associated with cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM), no such study has been carried out in Belgium. OBJECTIVES: To identify individuals who are at high risk of developing malignant melanoma in Belgium, which could enhance the efficacy of screening interventions and avoid unnecessary skin inspections. STUDY DESIGN/SETTING/SUBJECTS: We prospectively included patients who were diagnosed with invasive malignant melanoma between 1998 and 2001 at the Department of Dermatology in a case-control study. Controls were selected from the outpatient dermatology clinic. Participants were interviewed and clinically examined by a dermatologist. We asked questions concerning most known risk factors associated with malignant melanoma such as phenotypical and skin characteristics, and environmental and lifestyle exposures. To adjust for confounding variables and to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), a multivariate model was used. RESULTS: Although sunburn in childhood and substantial occupational solar exposure were modestly, but significantly, associated with malignant melanoma risk, clinical examination yielded several stronger risk factors. In a multivariate model, which adjusted for age, gender and skin phototype, phenotypical characteristics such as skin, hair and eye colour were significantly associated with the development of malignant melanoma. In the multivariate model, people with three or more atypical naevi were at more than 10-fold risk of developing a malignant melanoma (> or = 3 atypical naevi; adjusted OR = 11.40, 95% CI = 4.79-17.53) compared to those without an atypical naevus. The presence of one or more palpable naevi on the upper extremities or having solar lentigines increased the odds of developing malignant melanoma at least twofold. CONCLUSIONS: In Belgium, risk factors associated with malignant melanoma appear to be in accordance with previous studies. To assess peoples' risk profile, clinical skin examination is likely to yield the most important sporadic malignant melanoma risk factors. Therefore, focusing screening campaigns on individuals with predefined findings on skin self-examination may increase its efficacy.