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Can Skin Cancer Be Inherited

Learn What You Can About Your Family History Of Cancer

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In some families, certain abnormal genes that cause cancer can be passed down from parent to child. These abnormal genes may lead to people in that family having cancer. But this is not as common as you might think. There are also other reasons why cancer may happen in many members of a family, including sharing a common environment or lifestyle.

Learn what you can about your family history of cancer. Talk to your doctor about it. Make sure to tell your doctor if your parents, children, brothers or sisters have ever had cancer. Your doctor will want to know what type of cancer these close relatives had and their age when they were diagnosed.

Your doctor can help you understand your cancer risk and talk to you about possible next steps, such as genetic testing.

Risk Factors For Melanoma Skin Cancer

A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. It could be a behaviour, substance or condition. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. The most important risk factor for melanoma skin canceris ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning.

The number of new cases of melanoma skin cancer has increased in both men and women over the past 30 years. More men than women develop it. The chance of developing melanoma skin cancer increases with age, but it is also found in adolescents and young adults .

Lentigo maligna is a very early form of skin cancer . It is sometimes described as a precancerous condition of the skin. If lentigo maligna isnt treated, it may become melanoma skin cancer that can grow into deeper layers of skin or surrounding tissue. Some of the risk factors for melanoma skin cancer may also cause lentigo maligna. Find out more about .

Risk factors are generally listed in order from most to least important. But in most cases, it is impossible to rank them with absolute certainty.

What You Can Do

Be on the lookout: If you have FAMMM or other hereditary risk factors, be sure to self-check more frequently and visit your dermatologist often for thorough professional skin exams.

Start early: Children in melanoma-prone families need special attention. Some doctors recommend skin checks at puberty and during adolescence.

The good news is that the survival rate for familial melanoma is even higher than that for non-familial melanomas most likely because these families are carefully watching and melanomas are usually found while the cancer is very early and more likely to be cured.

Protect against UV rays: You can reduce the melanoma risk posed by UV radiation by taking simple, smart protective measures. Safeguard your skin against the sun every day, even when its cloudy. Avoid indoor tanning entirely. Get more details here: Skin Cancer Prevention Guidelines.

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Negative Test Can Give You A False Sense Of Security

If the test shows that you dont have a gene mutation for melanoma, thats great news. But it doesnt mean that you cannot get melanoma. More people are diagnosed with melanoma than ever before. Most of them, 90%, dont have a gene mutation that increases their risk.

Dermatologists caution that everyone needs to protect their skin from the sun. You still need to check your skin for signs of skin cancer. And you should keep all follow-up appointments with your dermatologist.

Risk Factors For Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Cancers linked to inherited mutations

Sun exposure and other risk factors

Sun exposure is the major known environmental factor associated with the development of skin cancer of all types however, different patterns of sun exposure are associated with each major type of skin cancer. Unlike basal cell carcinoma , SCC is associated with chronic exposure, rather than intermittent intense exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Occupational exposure is the characteristic pattern of sun exposure linked with SCC. Other agents and factors associated with SCC risk include tanning beds, arsenic, therapeutic radiation , chronic skin ulceration, and immunosuppression.

Characteristics of the skin

Like melanoma and BCC, SCC occurs more frequently in individuals with lighter skin than in those with darker skin. A case-control study of 415 cases and 415 controls showed similar findings relative to Fitzpatrick type I skin, individuals with increasingly darker skin had decreased risks of skin cancer . The same study found that blue eyes and blond/red hair were also associated with increased risks of SCC, with crude ORs of 1.7 for blue eyes, 1.5 for blond hair, and 2.2 for red hair.


Personal history of BCC, SCC, and melanoma skin cancers

Family history of squamous cell carcinoma or associated premalignant lesions

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Looking To Visit A Dermatologist For A Skin Cancer Screening

Do you know your risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer? To learn your risk and what you can do to prevent skin cancer, make an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists today. We have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.

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What Is Familial Malignant Melanoma

Familial malignant melanoma is a term usually referring to families in which 2 or more first-degree relatives, such as a parent, sibling, and/or child, have a type of skin cancer called melanoma. Cancer begins when healthy cells begin to change and grow, out of control forming a mass called a tumor. Overall, about 8% of people newly diagnosed with melanoma have a first-degree relative with melanoma. A much smaller percentage, about 1% to 2%, has 2 or more close relatives with melanoma.

Individuals in melanoma-prone families frequently have moles called dysplastic nevi. Dysplastic nevi are large, flat, irregular, asymmetric, variably pigmented moles. They occur primarily on sun-exposed skin, but they also occur in areas that are not exposed to the sun. The moles must be monitored very carefully for any change in size, shape, and color to watch for cancer. In the United States, the average age when melanoma is diagnosed in people with familial melanoma is in the 30s the average age when melanoma is diagnosed in the general population is in the 50s.

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Tyr Tyrp1 And Asip Genes

Recently, other genes involved with skin pigment have been identified that may also increase susceptibility to inherited melanoma.

These genes encode the following proteins: TYR , TYRP1 , and ASIP .

Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme that catalyses the production of melanin and other pigments and is encoded by the TYR gene.

TYRP1 is a protein involved in melanin production and is encoded by the TYRP1 gene.

Tyrp1 is involved in stabilising the tyrosinase enzyme and modulating its catalytic activity. Tyrp1 also affects melanocyte proliferation and melanocyte cell death.

Agouti signalling protein is a product of the Agouti gene, also called ASIP. ASIP affects the quality of hair pigmentation and act as an inhibitor of the -melanocyte stimulating hormone.

Mutations in TYR, TYRP1 or ASIP genes can result in the production of abnormal proteins and increase melanoma risk.

What Are The Screening Options For Familial Melanoma

Is Skin Cancer Genetic or Hereditary? | Skin Cancer

Anyone with a parent, sibling, or child who has had melanoma should be carefully monitored for melanoma themselves. In people that have had melanoma, thorough skin exams should initially be performed every 3 to 6 months by a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in skin problems, a nurse specializing in dermatology, or another specially trained health care provider to monitor any pigmented lesions . It is important to watch moles closely for any signs of change in shape, size, or color. Dermatologists may take pictures of the skin and moles, known as mole mapping, or view moles with a hand-held device known as a dermatoscope. This may be helpful to show changes over time. Any suspicious moles or other skin changes should be removed by a doctor so the tissue can be analyzed under a microscope.

In families known or strongly suspected to have familial melanoma, children should begin screening by age 10. Family members should also perform regular self-examinations to look for skin changes. Due to the high risk of multiple melanomas, people with familial melanoma should avoid sun exposure and take steps to protect themselves when outdoors. Learn more about protecting your skin from the sun.

Screening recommendations may change over time as new technologies are developed, and more is learned about familial melanoma. It is important to talk with your doctor about appropriate screening tests.

Learn more about what to expect when having common tests, procedures, and scans.

Also Check: How To Check For Skin Cancer

Genetic Counseling Is A Communication Process Between A Specially Trained Health Professional And A Person Concerned About The Genetic Risk Of Disease

The person’s family and personal medical history may be discussed, and counseling may lead to genetic testing. Genetic counselors and other specially trained health professionals can help patients make an informed decision about whether to get genetic testing.

It is not always easy to determine whether a condition in a family is inherited. Genetic counselors and other specially trained health professionals can help patients understand their family medical history, their options for genetic testing, and the risks and benefits of learning genetic information. If a patient chooses to get genetic testing, it may be done using a sample of blood, saliva, or skin. Genetic test results can reveal information about other family members and can create tension in the family. Genetic counselors can help people cope with their genetic testing results, including how to discuss the results with family members.

Syndromes Associated With A Predisposition To Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell nevus syndrome

BCNS, also known as Gorlin Syndrome, Gorlin-Goltz syndrome, and nevoid BCC syndrome, is an autosomal dominant disorder with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 57,000 individuals. The syndrome is notable for complete penetrance and high levels of variable expressivity, as evidenced by evaluation of individuals with identical genotypes but widely varying phenotypes. The clinical features of BCNS differ more among families than within families. BCNS is primarily associated with germline pathogenic variants in PTCH1, but families with this phenotype have also been associated with alterations in PTCH2 and SUFU.

Other associated benign neoplasms include gastric hamartomatous polyps, congenital pulmonary cysts, cardiac fibromas, meningiomas, craniopharyngiomas, fetal rhabdomyomas, leiomyomas, mesenchymomas, basaloid follicular hamartomas, and nasal dermoid tumors. Development of meningiomas and ependymomas occurring postradiation therapy has been documented in the general pediatric population radiation therapy for syndrome-associated intracranial processes may be partially responsible for a subset of these benign tumors in individuals with BCNS. In addition, radiation therapy of malignant medulloblastomas in the BCNS population may result in many cutaneous BCCs in the radiation ports. Similarly, treatment of BCC of the skin with radiation therapy may result in induction of large numbers of additional BCCs.

DNA repair genes

Rare syndromes

Rombo syndrome

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How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed

In order to give a validated statement, the physician or dermatologist has to examine the skin before identifying its condition. Whether a person is suffering from skin cancer or not, this gets clear when skin biopsy is conducted. However, in some cases, the appearance of the skin solely proves to be sufficient for the diagnosis of skin cancer. Generally, the skin biopsy clarifies the suspicion of skin cancer and lets a patient know everything about his/her condition in the given scenario.

On a whole, skin cancer comes with numerous symptoms and signs. One has to recognize them before the condition becomes malignant. Lastly, seeking professional assistance and dermatologist consultation is highly essential to obtain the relevant details about skin cancer.

Exposure To Sun Over Time

Studies Show Skin Cancer Can Be Inherited

Because we are living longer, we are exposed to more sun during our lifetime. This means skin cancer is more common than it used to be. Skin cancer is more common in people over the age of 40 and becomes more common with age. But the number of younger people developing skin cancer is also rising.

People who work outdoors for example, farm workers, builders and gardeners have a greater risk. This is because they are exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

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Risk Factors For Basal Cell Carcinoma

This section focuses on risk factors in individuals at increased hereditary risk of developing BCC.

Sun exposure

Sun exposure is the major known environmental factor associated with the development of skin cancer of all types. There are different patterns of sun exposure associated with each major type of skin cancer .

Pigmentary characteristics

The high-risk phenotype consists of individuals with the following physical characteristics:

  • Fair skin that sunburns easily.
  • Lightly pigmented irides .
  • Presence of freckles in sun-exposed skin.
  • Poor ability to tan.
  • Blond or red hair color.

Specifically, people with more highly pigmented skin demonstrate lower incidence of BCC than do people with lighter pigmented skin. Individuals with Fitzpatrick type I or II skin were shown to have a twofold increased risk of BCC in a small case-control study. Blond or red hair color was associated with increased risk of BCC in two large cohorts: the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. In women from the Nurses Health Study, there was an increased risk of BCC in women with red hair relative to those with light brown hair . In men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, the risk of BCC associated with red hair was not as large and was not significant after adjustment for melanoma family history and sunburn history. Risk associated with blond hair was also increased for both men and women , and dark brown hair was protective against BCC .

Family history

For People Who Have An Increased Risk Of Melanoma There Are Important Steps That Can Help To Reduce The Chance Of Developing Melanoma

Limit sun exposure

  • Avoid exposure between 10 am and 4 pm when UV light is strongest
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher daily

Check your skin

  • Learn how to do a skin self exam and check your skin once a month
  • Have regular skin exams by a doctor
  • Talk to your doctor if a mole or spot on the skin is changing in size, shape or color, or if it is persistently itching, bleeding, or growing

Also Check: How To Know I Have Skin Cancer

What Role Do Genes Play In Melanoma

Many cancers begin when one or more genes in a cell are mutated , creating an abnormal protein.

A person may either be born with a genetic mutation in all of their cells or acquire a genetic mutation in a single cell during his or her life sometimes as a result of exposure to environmental factors, such as UV radiation from the sun.

Most melanomas are considered sporadic, meaning that the damage to the genes occurs by chance after a person is born, and there is no risk of passing on the gene to a person’s children.

An increased risk of melanoma occurs when specific gene mutations are passed within a family from generation to generation. Such inherited melanoma is sometimes called familial melanoma.

Inherited risk of melanoma is suspected if two or more first-degree relatives are diagnosed with melanoma.

Many people who have an increased risk of melanoma never develop the disease only 10% of melanoma is familial.

What Do We Know About The Causes And Heredity Of Skin Cancer

Genetics, Skin Cancer, and You

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer, although artificial sources of UV radiation, such as sunlamps and tanning booths, also play a role. UV radiation can damage the DNA, or genetic information, in skin cells, creating “misspellings” in their genetic code and, as a result, alter the function of those cells.

Cancers generally are caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. With skin cancer, the environment plays a greater role, but individuals can be born with a genetic disposition toward or vulnerability to getting cancer. The risk is greatest for people who have light-colored skin that freckles easily – often those who also have red or blond hair and blue or light-colored eyes – although anyone can get skin cancer.

Skin cancer is related to lifetime exposure to UV radiation, therefore most skin cancers appear after age 50. However, the sun’s damaging effects begin at an early age. People who live in areas that get high levels of UV radiation from the sun are more likely to get skin cancer. For example, the highest rates of skin cancer are found in South Africa and Australia, areas that receive high amounts of UV radiation.

About 10 percent of all patients with melanoma have family members who also have had the disease. Research suggests that a mutation in the CDKN2 gene on chromosome 9 plays a role in this form of melanoma. Studies have also implicated genes on chromosomes 1 and 12 in cases of familial melanoma.

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Can Skin Cancer Be Inherited

Skin Cancer specialist in Mount Pleasant is often asked by patients whether they can inherit cancer from their family. No, most skin cancers cannot be caused by an inherited faulty gene, except Melanoma. However, families are likely to have the same skin traits which may increase their risk of developing cancer. For example, if your family has light-skinned and light-haired people, your skin mat gets hypersensitive and more prone to skin cancer growth. Knowing the risks of skin cancer can help you to avoid this condition by reducing sun exposure and using strong sunscreens.

Cancer initself is a word that reminds of physical and emotional trauma a person goesthrough. Skin Cancer is easily prevented if detected at a pretty early stage.It is expected that you may find the above discussion helpful and many of yourdoubts are cleared now. If you still have queries do visit your nearest skincancer specialist.


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