Vitamin D deficiency at melanoma diagnosis is associated with higher Breslow thickness

Candy Wyatt*, Robyn M. Lucas, Cameron Hurst, Michael G. Kimlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
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Epidemiological evidence shows that people with thicker, or higher stage, melanomas have lower vitamin D status compared to those with thinner tumours. Evidence from experimental studies is inconsistent, but some suggest that administration of vitamin D metabolites can decrease tumour aggressiveness. 


Determine the relationship between vitamin D status at diagnosis and melanoma thickness (as an indicator of prognosis), in a subtropical setting with high melanoma incidence.


We recruited 100 melanoma patients in Brisbane, Australia within days of their diagnosis. Data on factors previously associated with melanoma risk or prognosis were collected by questionnaire and physical examination. Serum for 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D] levels was collected prior to wider excision biopsy; histological indicators of prognosis were obtained from pathology reports. We used multivariable logistic regression models to analyse the association between Breslow thickness (≥0.75 mm compared to <0.75 mm), Clark level (2-5 compared to 1) and presence of mitoses, and vitamin D status. 


Serum 25(OH)D <50 nmol/L (versus ≥50 nmol/L) was associated with a nearly four-fold increase in risk of having a thicker tumour (Adjusted OR = 3.82, 95% CI: 1.03, 14.14; p = 0.04, adjusted for age, sex, skin phototype, body mass index and season at diagnosis). There was no significant association with Clark level or presence of mitosis. Serum 25(OH) D levels in the highest quartile (≥69.8 nmol/L) were not associated with a more favourable prognosis. 


Vitamin D deficiency at the time of melanoma diagnosis is associated with thicker tumours that are likely to have a poorer prognosis. Ensuring vitamin D levels of 50 nmol/L or higher in this population could potentially result in 18% of melanomas having Breslow thickness of <0.75 mm rather than ≥0.75 mm.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0126394
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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