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Differences in Melanoma Between Canada and New South Wales, Australia: A Population-Based Genes, Environment, and Melanoma (GEM) Study.


In an effort to understand the difference between melanomas diagnosed in Australia (New South Wales) and Canada, where the incidence in New South Wales is almost three times greater than in Canada, and mortality is twice as high although survival is slightly more favorable, we had one pathologist review 1,271 melanomas from British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, to compare these to melanomas in New South Wales, Australia. We hypothesized that histopathologic characteristics might provide insight into divergent pathways to melanoma development. We found a number of differences in risk factors and tumor characteristics between the two geographic areas. There were higher mole counts and darker phenotypes in the Canadian patients, while the Australian patients had greater solar elastosis, more lentigo maligna melanomas, and more tumor infiltrating lymphocytes. We hypothesize that the differences observed may illustrate different etiologies – the cumulative exposure pathway among Australian patients and the nevus pathway among Canadian patients. This is one of the largest studies investigating the divergent pathway hypothesis and is particularly robust due to the evaluation of all lesions by one dermatopathologist.

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