Purpose: Familial melanoma patients are reported to present with thinner melanomas, to be younger at the time of diagnosis, and to have a greater likelihood of developing multiple primary tumors. We sought to determine whether melanomas that occur in a familial setting demonstrate different prognostic and survival statistics relative to sporadic melanoma.
Patients and methods: This population-based study used the Utah Cancer Registry and Utah Population Database to objectively evaluate prognostic and survival statistics of the familial melanoma population. From 1973 to 1999, there were 7,785 cases of invasive melanoma identified through the Utah Cancer Registry. These were linked to the Utah Population Database, resulting in 2,659 subjects with family-history information from which a familiality score could be calculated. Cases scored in the top ninth percentile were assigned as high familial risk, and the remaining 91% were considered low familial risk.
Results: Multivariate logistic-regression analysis found no association between sex, Breslow depth, Clark level, or survival and the familial status. Age at first diagnosis of invasive melanoma was slightly lower in the high-familial-risk group (57 v 60 years; P = .03). High-familial-risk subjects had more melanomas diagnosed at age 30 or younger (12% v 6%; P < .001). A significant difference in the overall number of individuals with two or more primary malignant melanomas was not detected among the groups (P = .2).
Conclusion: These data suggest that melanomas occurring in the context of an underlying inherited susceptibility do not have a significantly different biologic behavior.