Melanoma – WAMHS

The Western Australian Melanoma Health Study

Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and Australia has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world. Although epidemiological studies have identified the major individual and environmental risk factors for melanoma, the genetic determinants of susceptibility, progression and prognosis, and their interactions with environmental factors, remain largely unknown.

The Western Australian Melanoma Health Study (WAMHS) was established in 2006 and aimed to invite all patients in Western Australia who had been diagnosed with invasive melanoma to participate. The recruitment and data collection phase of the WAMHS ran from June 2006 to March 2010 and was funded by the Scott Kirkbride Melanoma Research Centre. Blood samples, histo-pathology data and information on exposure and other risk factors were collected from consenting patients and used to form an extensive population-based database and linked bio-specimen resource. These resources are being used by researchers to investigate causes of melanoma and factors affecting prognosis. This information will assist in the development of new measures for prevention, detection and treatment of melanoma.

In total, 1643 melanoma patients from Western Australia consented to participate in WAMHS. Participants generously gave their time to provide more than 1300 blood samples and complete more than 1300 questionnaires. This information will be incredibly useful for melanoma research now and in the future and the WAMHS would like to sincerely thank all participants.

Participant requirements

WAMHS participants were Western Australian adults, aged between 18 and 80 years, who were diagnosed with an invasive melanoma of the skin between January 2006 and September 2009.

For eligible patients to be contacted about the study, it was a requirement that their doctor had deemed them suitable for contact (actively or passively).

All participants were recruited via the Western Australian Cancer Registry.

Data Collection

Study questionnaire

The full-launch questionnaire was administered by telephone interview and aimed to identify environmental and host risk factors. An overview of the themes addressed in both the pilot and full-launch study can be downloaded from: WAMHS Questionnaire Themes

Blood samples

Blood samples were collected from consenting participants for the extraction of DNA, RNA and serum.

DNA samples will enable researchers to look at potential genes involved in melanoma.

RNA samples will be used in gene expression studies, to allow researchers to look at the proteins expressed by potential genes involved in melanoma.

Serum samples will be used for biochemical analyses.

Scar outcome sub-study

In collaboration with the McComb Foundation, the WAMHS also investigate host, environmental and genetic factors affecting scar outcome following melanoma excision.

Data for this part of the study was collected from pathology reports, questionnaires and clinical scar examinations. Details of each component can be downloaded from the link below.

Overview of Scar Outcome Substudy Data Collections

Data Access

The Western Australian Melanoma Health Study welcomes approaches from researchers looking to access the accumulated data and biological materials, and for participation in on-going and new data collection activities.

Please see these documents for more details on applying for data access:

WAMHS Management Committee

The WAMHS Management Committee was established to oversee scientific practice of the WAMHS and access to the collected data. The Committee will review research proposals as they are submitted and, in accordance with the Access Policy and relevant ethics approval, grant access to WAMHS data.

The Committee currently consists of the following members:

Professor Michael Millward (Chair)

  • Cancer Council Professor of Clinical Cancer Research, University of Western Australia
  • Head of Department, Medical Oncology, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
  • Director, Cancer Council Clinical Trials WA, Western Australian Institute for Medical Research

Winthrop Professor Eric Moses (Scientific Director)

  • Director, Centre for Genetic Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UWA
  • Chair, Genetic Epidemiology, UWA

Dr Judy Cole

  • Director, Western Australian Melanoma Advisory Service
  • Specialist Dermatologist, St John of God Dermatology
  • Consultant Dermatologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and King Edward Memorial Hospital

Professor Jon Emery

  • Head of School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care, University of Western Australia
  • Professor of General Practice, University of Western Australia

Professor Jane Heyworth

  • Sub-Dean (Health Sciences), University of Western Australia
  • Professor, School of Population Health, University of Western Australia

Professor Peter Leedman

  • Deputy Director, WA Institute for Medical Research
  • Head of Hormone Dependent Cancers Laboratory, WA Institute for Medical Research
  • Medical Director, Scott Kirkbride Melanoma Research Centre

Professor Fiona Wood FRACS AM

  • Chair, McComb Foundation Inc.
  • Director, Burns Services of Western Australia
  • Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Royal Perth Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital

Useful Links:


For inquiries about the WA Melanoma Health Study, please contact the Study Coordinator, Sarah Ward.

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