Impact of personal genomic risk information on melanoma prevention behaviors and psychological outcomes: a randomized controlled trial

Smit AK, Allen M, Beswick B, Butow P, Dawkins H, Dobbinson SJ, Dunlop KL, Espinoza D, Fenton G, Kanetsky PA, Keogh L, Kimlin MG, Kirk J, Law MH, Lo S, Low C, Mann GJ, Reyes-Marcelino G, Morton RL, Newson AJ, Savard J, Trevena L, Wordsworth S, Cust AE. Genet Med. (Epub 12 Aug 2021)


Purpose: We evaluated the impact of personal melanoma genomic risk information on sun-related behaviors and psychological outcomes.

Methods: In this parallel group, open, randomized controlled trial, 1,025 Australians of European ancestry without melanoma and aged 18-69 years were recruited via the Medicare database (3% consent). Participants were randomized to the intervention (n = 513; saliva sample for genetic testing, personalized melanoma risk booklet based on a 40-variant polygenic risk score, telephone-based genetic counseling, educational booklet) or control (n = 512; educational booklet). Wrist-worn ultraviolet (UV) radiation dosimeters (10-day wear) and questionnaires were administered at baseline, 1 month postintervention, and 12 months postbaseline.

Results: At 12 months, 948 (92%) participants completed dosimetry and 973 (95%) the questionnaire. For the primary outcome, there was no effect of the genomic risk intervention on objectively measured UV exposure at 12 months, irrespective of traditional risk factors. For secondary outcomes at 12 months, the intervention reduced sunburns (risk ratio: 0.72, 95% confidence interval: 0.54-0.96), and increased skin examinations among women. Melanoma-related worry was reduced. There was no overall impact on general psychological distress.

Conclusion: Personalized genomic risk information did not influence sun exposure patterns but did improve some skin cancer prevention and early detection behaviors, suggesting it may be useful for precision prevention. There was no evidence of psychological harm.