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Seasonality of cutaneous melanoma diagnosis in Northern Ireland with a review

Chaillol, Isabellea; Boniol, Mathieua; Middleton, Richardc; Doré, Jean Francoisb; Autier, Philippea; Gavin, Annac

doi: 10.1097/CMR.0b013e328343a619

In light-skinned populations, the incidence of cutaneous melanoma is highest in summer and lowest in winter. We analyzed the seasonal variation of melanoma incidence in Northern Ireland from 1984 to 2006 according to the Breslow thickness and body site. We also reviewed earlier studies on seasonal variation in the diagnosis of melanoma. Two-thirds of melanomas in women (2028 cases) and one-third of melanomas in men (1230 cases) were diagnosed on the limbs. In both sexes, pronounced seasonal variations were observed in the incidence of invasive melanomas less than 2 mm arising on the limbs. These seasonal variations were mainly noticeable in women of all ages, to a lesser degree in men aged below 50 years, and not in men aged above 50 years. No seasonal variation was observed for melanomas less than 2 mm arising on the trunk or the head and neck nor for melanomas 2 mm thickness or more, irrespective of the age, sex, and body site. Seasonal variations of thin melanomas were less noticeable in men because of the axial predominance of melanoma occurrence in this sex. The review of 15 earlier studies found by a systematic search of Medline supported the likelihood of our findings. This analysis suggests that ultraviolet radiation has a short-term promotional effect on melanocytes or nevocytes of the limbs, and is not associated with progression from thin to thick melanoma.

aInternational Prevention Research Institute

bINSERM U 590, Centre Léon Bérard, Lyon, France

cNorthern Ireland Cancer Registry, Queens University, Belfast, UK

Correspondence to Philippe Autier, MD, International Prevention Research Institute (iPRI), 95 Cours Lafayette, Lyon 69006, France Tel: +33 4 72 17 11 83; fax: +33 4 72 17 11 90; e-mail:

Received November 24, 2010

Accepted December 12, 2010

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.