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Ultraviolet radiation and cutaneous melanoma

a historical perspective

Autier, Philippe; Doré, Jean-François

doi: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000609
Review article: PDF Only

In this article, we summarize the research that eventually led to the classification of the full ultraviolet (UV) radiation spectrum as carcinogenic to humans. We recall the pioneering works that led to the formulation of novel hypotheses on the reasons underlying the increasing burden of melanoma in light-skinned populations. It took long before having compelling evidence on the association between UV and melanoma, in particular, the importance of UV exposure during childhood for both the occurrence of melanoma and death. The role of UVA was established only after 2005. If molecular lesions caused by UV radiation are better known, the precise mechanism by which UV exposure drives melanoma occurrence and progression still needs to be elucidated. More research on the UV–melanoma relationships has led to more evidence-based sun-protection recommendations, especially for children, and to effective control of the artificial UV tanning fashion. Since around 1985–1995, the mortality because of melanoma has started to decrease in younger age groups in most light-skinned populations. If sun protection among children remain on top of public health agendas, there is a fairly great chance that melanoma mortality will stabilize and steadily decrease in all light-skinned populations. The introduction of effective therapies against metastatic disease will improve this reversal in mortality trends.

University of Strathclyde Institute of Global Public Health, International Prevention Research Institute (iPRI), Dardilly, France

Correspondence to Philippe Autier, MD, International Prevention Research Institute, The Campus – Building B, the Australian 18, Chemin des Cuers, 69570 Dardilly, France Tel: +33 472 171 199; fax: +33 472 171 190; e-mail:

Received February 12, 2019

Accepted March 8, 2019

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