Open Access Research article

Socio-economic class, rurality and risk of cutaneous melanoma by site and gender in Sweden

Beatriz Pérez-Gómez12*, Nuria Aragonés12, Per Gustavsson3, Virginia Lope12, Gonzalo López-Abente12 and Marina Pollán12

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer and Environmental Epidemiology Unit, National Centre for Epidemiology, Carlos III Institute of Health, Madrid, Spain

2 Consortium for Biomedical Research in Epidemiology & Public Health (CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública – CIBERESP), Carlos III Institute of Health, Madrid, Spain

3 Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:33  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-33

Published: 25 January 2008

Abstract

Background

Cutaneous melanoma (CM) is a cancer usually associated with high socio-economic level in the literature. Few studies have, however, assessed this relationship by gender and site or the association between CM and rurality.

Methods

A major-sized historical occupational Swedish cohort comprising 2,992,166 workers was used to estimate relative risk of cutaneous melanoma, broken down by gender and anatomical site, for occupational sectors (as a proxy of socio-economic class) and rurality. To this end, Poisson models were fitted for each site in men and women, including occupational sector and town size, with adjustment for age, period of diagnosis and geographical area as possible confounding factors.

Results

White collar workers presented a marked increased of risk in men in all melanoma cases, as well as in trunk, upper and lower limbs. This pattern was less clear for women, in which some heterogeneity appeared, as low risks in lower socioeconomic sectors in trunk, or risk excesses in white collar workers in lower limbs did not achieve statistical significance. Males also showed significant differences in risk by rural/urban distribution, but in women this association was limited to CM of lower limb. Risk of CM of head/neck did not vary by occupational sector or town size, thus depicting a specific epidemiological profile, which proved common to both sexes.

Conclusion

While differences in risk between men and women could suggest greater homogeneity in UV-exposure behaviour among women, the uniform risk pattern in head and neck melanoma, present in both sexes, might support the coexistence of different aetiological pathways, related to anatomical site.