Researchers improve skin cancer risk estimates by combining data corresponding to genetics and sun exposure, according to a study published on October 17, 2018.
Genetic and survey data were collected by the researchers from over 210,000 consented research participants of European descent. These data were analyzed to identify correlations between previously known and potentially novel skin cancer risk factors and the occurrence of three forms of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Previously, it has been found that risk of skin cancer increases with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Although each single factor was not particularly significant on its own, by combining multiple factors into statistical models, it provided more information. The best-performing models incorporated a genetic risk score composed of data on up to 50 genetic variants, along with survey data on family history, skin pigmentation and sensitivity, number of moles, estimated current sun exposure, sunbathing frequency before the age of 30, and body mass index (BMI).
The new models achieved a high predictive accuracy (area under the curve [AUC], between 0.81 and 0.85). Genetic factors alone accounted for 8.3 to 15.2 percent of the variance explained in skin cancer risk. Furthermore, researchers are planning to expand their sample to groups with non-European ancestry and are also exploring other methods for the calculation of genetic risk score and measuring sun exposure. They are expecting to obtain risk estimates that are accurate enough to be used by individuals and clinicians.