Familial Melanoma
Study Code:ML
Sample:~8000 subjects
Start Date:Jan.1982
Contact:David Smyth
More Info:QIMR only



The principle objective of this study based in the Epidemiology & Population Health Unit at QIMR, was to investigate the roles that genetic and environmental factors play in the aetiology of melanoma.

Gene-environment interaction occurs when the effect of environmental exposures on melanoma risk varies according to an individual's genetic make-up. Genetic influences may arise in a number of ways, most notably through major genes with a direct effect on the development of the disease, but also through genetic influences on risk factors such as skin colour, ability tan or propensity to develop melanocytic naevi, as well as through genetic influences on behaviour leading to greater or lesser sun exposure.

The aim of the study was to determine the relative importance of these factors, and their interaction with solar UV exposure, in the familial aggregation of melanoma.

This study comprised a cohort of families of melanoma cases diagnosed in Queensland, Australia. The cases were sampled from all Queensland residents with a histologically confirmed first primary cutaneous melanoma diagnosed in Queensland between January 1, 1982 and December 3, 1990.

Some 12,000 individuals were diagnosed with either insitu or invasive melanoma during the study years. This study contacted approximately 10,400 of these individuals and obtained a response rate of 81%. All respondents who indicated that they had a first degree relative with melanoma and who consented to participate further in the study were then sent a further detailed questionnaire seeking information of phenotypic characteristics, sun exposure, history of sunburns etc. In addition a 20% random sample of cases who indicated that they did not have a first degree relative with melanoma were also sent the same questionnaire.


This is a list of the publications arising from the Melanoma Study.

MacLennan R, Green AC, McLeod GRC, Martin NM. Increasing incidence of cutaneous melanoma in Queensland, Australia. J Natl Cancer Instit 1992; 84: 1427-1432.

Green A, MacLennan R, Youl P and Martin N. Site distribution of cutaneous melanoma in Queensland. Int. J. Cancer 53, 232-236 (1993).

Aitken JF, Green A, MacLennan R, Jackman L & Martin NG. Comparability of surrogate and self-reported information on melanoma risk factors. Br. J. Cancer (1993) 67, 1036-1041.

Aitken JF, Duffy DL, Green A, Youl P, MacLennan R and Martin NM. Heterogeneity of melanoma risk in families of melanoma patients. Am J Epidemiol 1994; 140: 961-973.

Aitken JF, Youl P, MacLennan R and Martin NG. Accuracy of case-reported family history of melanoma in Queensland, Australia. Melanoma Research 1996, 6 pp 313-317.

Aitken JF, Green AC, MacLennan R, Youl P and Martin NG. The Queensland Familial Melanoma Project: study design and characteristics of participants. Melanoma Research 1996, 6, pp 155-165