OBJECTIVES: Associations between occupational exposures and the occurrence of cutaneous melanoma were examined as part of a large population based case-control study of 19 cancer sites. METHODS: Cases were men aged 35 to 70 years old, resident in Montreal, Canada, with a new histologically confirmed cutaneous melanoma (n = 103). There were two control groups, a randomly selected population control group (n = 533), and a cancer control group (n = 533) randomly selected from among subjects with other types of cancer in the large study. Odds ratios for the occurrence of melanoma were calculated for each exposure circumstance for which there were more than four exposed cases (85 substances, 13 occupations, and 20 industries) adjusting for age, ethnicity, and number of years of schooling. RESULTS: Significantly increased risk of melanoma was found for exposure to four substances (fabric dust, plastic dust, trichloroethylene, and a group containing paints used on surfaces other than metal and varnishes used on surfaces other than wood), three occupations (warehouse clerks, salesmen, and miners and quarrymen), and two industries (clothing and non-metallic mineral products). CONCLUSIONS: Most of the occupational circumstances examined were not associated with melanoma, nor is there any strong evidence from previous research that any of those are risk factors. For the few occupational circumstances which were associated in our data with melanoma, the statistical evidence was weak, and there is little or no supporting evidence in the scientific literature. On the whole, there is no persuasive evidence of occupational risk factors for melanoma, but the studies have been too small or have involved too much misclassification of exposure for this conclusion to be definitive.
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