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Sun Exposure and Melanoma in Agricultural Workers

20 Years
Not Enrolling
Melanoma, Other Skin Cancer (Basal & Squamous)

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Trial Information

Sun Exposure and Melanoma in Agricultural Workers

This K07 Career Development Award application is designed to expand Dr. Dennis' career
development from cancer etiology to cancer prevention and control. The career development
plan rests on mentoring directed by experts in cancer prevention research and protected
time to foster my professional development as an independent cancer control researcher. A
unique population, the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) cohort, will be used to examine sun
exposure, sun protection behavior, and factors affecting these behaviors regarding the risk
of melanoma in private pesticide applicators (farmers) and their spouses.

The research plan proposed to examine skin melanoma within this prospective cohort of
private applicators (mostly farmers) and their spouses in Iowa and North Carolina (the AHS)
in association with environmental factors. Specific aim 1 examined the risk of melanoma in
the AHS cohort using various existing measures of sun exposure adjusted for skin sensitivity
and sun protection. Subsequently (for aim 2) qualitative research methods were used to
design appropriate measures of sun exposure, sun protection behavior, and factors affecting
these behaviors in private applicators and their spouses within the AHS based on the cohort

Now Aim 3 will be completed by conducting a nested case-control study of melanoma within the
AHS cohort to examine in more detail sun exposure histories and protective behavior. The
questionnaire was designed based on findings from the cohort analyses (aim 1) and
qualitative methods (aim 2). The risk of melanoma will be examined regarding: a) the complex
relationship of cumulative (sun exposure during each decade of life) and intermittent sun
exposure (sunburns and sunny vacations), b) factors affecting behavior including attitudes
about sun exposure and prevention, and c) the use of tanning salons and sunless tanning
creams, particularly in spouses (expected to be rare overall).

The final aim is to use the results from the cohort and nested case-control studies to
design a behavioral intervention, along with short computer automated telephone interview
(CATI) that can be used in the whole AHS cohort or other farming populations. Funding for
such studies will be sought through the R01) mechanism as an independent cancer control
researcher. The behavioral intervention will be based on those factors that are the
strongest risk factors for melanoma, highly prevalent, and easily modifiable. The behavioral
intervention will be designed based on knowledge and skill gained from the Career
Development Plan goals.

Inclusion Criteria


- Registered Agricultural Health Study (AHS) participants in Iowa


- prior cancer diagnosis other than melanoma

- surrogates will not be used if a case has died before they are interviewed

- participants under 18 will not be included.

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Time Perspective: Prospective

Principal Investigator

Michael Alavanja, Ph.D.

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

National Cancer Institute (NCI)


United States: Federal Government

Study ID:




Start Date:

May 2009

Completion Date:

Related Keywords:

  • Melanoma
  • Other Skin Cancer (Basal & Squamous)
  • Melanoma
  • Sun Exposure History
  • Sun Exposure
  • Skin Neoplasms
  • Melanoma



National Cancer Institute (NCI), 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland  20892