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Melanoma is predominantly caused by UV exposure, but effects of heat and chemicals may largely increase melanoma incidence

An Australian health surveillance program, known as the health watch cohort, investigated mortality and cancer incidence in industrial workplaces (land based as well as offshore) between the years 1980-2000. There were significant increases in the incidence rate of melanoma (SIR 1.54 95% and CI 1.3-1.81) relative to the general population.

It is known that the exposure of outdoor workers to UV light increases their incidence of melanoma. Our research will also assess the level of exposure of workers to heat and chemicals to determine whether these exposures increase melanoma incidence. Collaboration with businesses, mining companies and building companies will ensure increased education and analysis of exposure rates. . By liaising with companies to reduce the exposure and increase education, we aim to reduce the incidence of melanoma and increase our understanding of the causes of the disease.

Aim 1. Monitoring of skin health in mining areas

The effect on skin of combined exposure to a mixture of heat, ultra violet (UV) rays and chemicals will be assessed in miners at Telfer Gold Mine, Newcrest Mining, WA.

Aim 2. The effects of melanocyte cells grown in vitro

The effect of environmental exposures on skin cells (keratinocyte and melanocyte cells) grown in culture,will be assessed and effects on morphology, proliferation, and gene expression will be analysed.

Results from these experiments will help us to understand the role that environmental hazards play on skin cancer, particularly in WA where heat and UV exposures are high.This research has been funded by an ECU Industry Collaboration Grant with Newcrest Mining as the industry partner.


Professor Mel Ziman
Director, Perth Melanoma Clinic, Associate Professor Robert Pearce
Associate Professor Jacques Oosthuizen
Dr Joseph Mate
Newcrest Mining, Ms Jenny Cahill
Ms Leslie Calapre

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