Background: Although cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) is still a relatively rare neoplasm, incidence rates are increasing in many white populations worldwide. A case-control study was performed in Argentina to estimate the risk factors for CMM.
Methods: The study group comprised 101 hospital cases with histologically verified melanoma and 246 controls, frequency matched by age, sex, and hospital. Individuals were interviewed about demographic and constitutional factors and sun exposure history.
Results: The following risk factors were significant in the logistic analysis: nevi on arms (odds ratio (OR) = 6.3 for 20 or more), skin phototype (OR = 4.1 for type l or ll), holidays spent at the beach (OR = 4 for more than 6 weeks lifelong), fair skin tone (OR = 3.4), light eye color (OR = 2.8), sunburn before the age of 15 years (OR = 2.4), and participation in outdoor sports (OR = 3.2 for more than 5790 h accumulated in a lifetime). Occupational sun exposure was not related to CMM risk. Educational level, hair color, and the presence of freckles were not independent risk factors for CMM.
Conclusions: The risk factors found for the studied population, with nearly 90% of the individuals born in Argentina and with nearly 50% with four southern European grandparents, were consistent with those described for other countries. This investigation has resulted in findings that may be of use in preparing actions to prevent CMM in Argentina; these should be directed at those individuals who present the above mentioned risk factors. These actions should include instructions to avoid excessive sun exposure, with the aim to reduce melanoma incidence.