Limited translational genomic research currently exists to guide the availability, comprehension, and appropriate use of personalized genomics in diverse general population subgroups. Melanoma skin cancers are preventable, curable, common in the general population, and disproportionately increasing in Hispanics.
Variants in the melanocortin-1 receptor ( MC1R) gene are present in approximately 50% of the population, are major factors in determining sun sensitivity, and confer a 2-to-3-fold increase in melanoma risk in the general population, even in populations with darker skin. Therefore, feedback regarding MC1R risk status may raise risk awareness and protective behavior in the general population.
We are conducting a randomized controlled trial examining Internet presentation of the risks and benefits of personalized genomic testing for MC1R gene variants that are associated with increased melanoma risk. We will enroll a total of 885 participants (462 participants are currently enrolled), who will be randomized 6:1 to personalized genomic testing for melanoma risk versus waiting list control. Control participants will be offered testing after outcome assessments. Participants will be balanced across self-reported Hispanic versus non-Hispanic ethnicity (n=750 in personalized genomic testing for melanoma risk arm; n=135 in control arm), and will be recruited from a general population cohort in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is subject to year-round sun exposure. Baseline surveys will be completed in-person with study staff and follow-up measures will be completed via telephone.
Aim 1 of the trial will examine the personal utility of personalized genomic testing for melanoma risk in terms of short-term (3-month) sun protection and skin screening behaviors, family and physician communication, and melanoma threat and control beliefs (ie, putative mediators of behavior change). We will also examine potential unintended consequences of testing among those who receive average-risk personalized genomic testing for melanoma risk findings, and examine predictors of sun protection at 3 months as the outcome. These findings will be used to develop messages for groups that receive average-risk feedback. Aim 2 will compare rates of test consideration in Hispanics versus non-Hispanics, including consideration of testing pros and cons and registration of a decision to either accept or decline testing. Aim 3 will examine personalized genomic testing for melanoma risk feedback comprehension, recall, satisfaction, and cancer-related distress in those who undergo testing, and whether these outcomes differ by ethnicity (Hispanic vs non-Hispanic), or sociocultural or demographic factors. Final outcome data collection is anticipated to be complete by October 2017, at which point data analysis will commence.