Clinicians, adults, and patients should not, however, believe that taller people are much more likely to develop melanoma. “There are many risk factors for melanoma and risk related to height is very miniscule,” melanoma expert Arthur Frankel, MD, of the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said in an interview with Cancer Therapy Advisor.

Dr Frankel noted that people are always looking for simple solutions, and that this type of study can contribute to such oversimplification.


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“Height is linked to melanoma risk makes a good headline,” but general statements raise anxiety and lead to other health issues. Darrel Ellis, MD, professor of medicine in the division of dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said the data are too preliminary and not well controlled. The study did not control for established risk factors such as genetic status, nevus count, pigmentation phenotype, and sun and tanning bed habits.

“Therefore, there is a reasonable chance that the association with height is a spurious finding.” Dr Ellis told Cancer Therapy Advisor.

That does not mean, of course, that the study is uninformative. It may eventually lead to the discovery of deeper biomarkers that will help oncologists identify people at risk of developing melanoma, which is becoming increasingly common worldwide. Some specific targetable genetic variants may affect malignant transformation. This study’s results should therefore be interpreted with caution, but not ignored.

Disclosures: the author has no relevant relationships to report.

Reference

  1. Meyle KD, Gamborg M, Holmich LR, Baker JL. Associations between childhood height and morphologically different variants of melanoma in adulthood. Eur J Cancer. 2016;67:99-105. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2016.08.002