Scientists Zero In on Key Melanoma Links

Review of previous research ties five genetic variants to the deadly skin cancer

TUESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've pinpointed a small number of genetic variants that are most strongly linked with the risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

The international team analyzed the findings of more than 100 previously published studies and found that just five variants are significantly associated with melanoma at the genome-wide level and strongly backed by population-wide studies.

The study appears online June 21 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The gene variants are on chromosomes that play an important role in determining a person's skin, hair and eye color.

However, the authors said in a journal news release that the findings should be considered with caution, noting that the genetic areas under study were chosen "because of their effect on pigmentation, which is known to be associated with melanoma risk."

About 68,000 U.S. adults were expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2010, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about melanoma.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, June 20, 2011

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