This study included 718 melanoma patients recruited from the Hospital of the
University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and from the University of
California in San Francisco. The comparison group included 945 non-melanoma
patients from those areas. The researchers limited the analysis to non-Hispanic
whites because the numbers of cases in other racial/ethnic groups were too few
Each participant was interviewed in person to gather data including tendency
to sunburn and ability to tan, along with medical, occupational, residential and
outdoor exposure histories. Residential histories were constructed in six-month
intervals, from date of birth to date of interview. Robertson-Berger (RB)
meters, which measure the amount of solar radiation received in a particular
location, were used to estimate the UVB intensity. A person’s cumulative
intensity was estimated by adding up the RB counts for each residence location
in six-month increments. Average annual intensity was determined by dividing the
cumulative intensity by the person’s age in years.
Future analyses will examine the effects of intermittent exposures on
individual melanoma risk. For example, researchers will consider whether people
who remain indoors for much of the week and then spend large amounts of time
outdoors over the weekend or during a vacation are at higher risk of
An estimated 53,600 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in the United
States in 2002, and an estimated 7,400 people will die of the disease. Melanoma
can be cured if detected and treated early.
Fears TR, Bird CC, Guerry D, Sagebiel RW, Gail MH, Elder DE, Halpern A, Holly
EA, Hartge P, Tucker MA. Average UVB Flux and Time Outdoors Predict Melanoma
Risk, Cancer Research, July 15, 2002, Vol. 62, No. 14, 3992-3996.