Identifying the genes that are important in the development of non melanoma skin

cancer, the most common form of skin cancer, is a focus of new research at the

Griffith Health Institute.

To be presented at this week’s Gold Coast Health and Medical Research

Conference and following Skin Cancer Action Week (18-24 November), the

Institute’s PhD candidate Rebecca Grealy, will discuss the results of her research

which examines the extent to which ‘DNA repair genes’ affect an individual

developing a solar keratosis (SK), a pre-cursor skin lesion of squamous cell

carcinoma (SCC).


“DNA damage is thought to result in the accumulation of genetic lesions, resulting

in pre-cancerous changes which can be followed by progression to SCC,” said

Professor Griffiths who is supervising Rebecca’s research.


“Functioning DNA repair pathways genes are important to prevent damage accumulation but have

not been previously examined in relation to SK.


“We are therefore investigating genes from a repair pathway in a well-studied skin

cancer cohort.”


The cohort is from the unique population of Nambour, Queensland.


This research has identified that factors such as age, skin colour, propensity to sunburn,

occupational and leisure sun exposure, prior history of skin cancer and signs of

photoageing (eg freckling and elastosis of the neck) significantly increase the risk

of becoming SK-affected.


“As we know, Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world, with rates the

highest anywhere.

“Non-melanomas such as SCC are the most common form of skin cancer to be

found. If we can identify genes associated with SK development and

susceptibility, then we will be closer to assisting in the development of future

treatments for this very common type of cancer,” said Professor Griffiths.