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What Are The Risk Factors For Melanoma

What Are The Risk Factors For Melanoma

Melanoma Risk Factors

A risk factor is any factor that is associated with increasing someones chances of developing a certain condition, such as cancer. Some risk factors are modifiable, such as lifestyle or environmental risk factors, and others cannot be modified, such as inherited factors or whether someone in the family has had cancer.

Having 1 or more risk factors does not mean that you will develop cancer. Many people have at least 1 risk factor but will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.

Factors that are associated with a higher risk of developing melanoma include:

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What Is A Risk Factor

A risk factor is anything that may increase your chance of having a disease. Risk factors for a certain type of cancer might include smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. The exact cause of someones cancer may not be known. But certain risk factors may make it more likely for a person to have cancer.

Things you should know about risk factors for cancer:

  • Risk factors may increase a person’s risk for developing the disease, but they don’t necessarily cause the disease.

  • Some people with 1 or more risk factors never develop cancer, while other people can develop cancer and have no risk factors.

  • Some risk factors are very well known. There is ongoing research about risk factors for many types of cancer.

Some risk factors, such as family history, may not be in your control. But other factors might be things you can change. Knowing the risk factors can help you make choices that might lower your risk. For example, sun exposure is a risk factor for melanoma, so you can protect yourself from the sun to help lower your risk.

Am I At Risk For Melanoma

Taking into account the melanoma risk factors mentioned, there have been some tools developed to help individuals determine their own level of risk.

At this time, these melanoma risk calculators are country specific with the following tools available:

It is important to use these tools as indicators. They are specific to the risk of melanoma in that country. The risk of other non-melanoma skin cancers is much higher.

Patients with low melanoma skin cancer risk scores can still develop the disease and it is important for all of us to check our skin regularly.

Learn more about how to recognize possible signs and symptoms of melanoma.

In addition, take a look at this Melanoma image guide that will walk you through different photos showing the melanoma signs and warning changes on your skin you should be looking for.

We also recommend you to see how other skin cancer types look like and read more about symptoms of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Those that are at higher risk, based on these risk calculators, or because of the risk factors mentioned above, should visit their local GP or dermatologist if they notice changes in their skin.

A few minutes with a doctor to assess your skin could prevent years of treatment for skin cancer.

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Read Also: Mayo Clinic Skin Cancer

What Are Risk Factors For Melanoma

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease, including melanoma. Risk factors may be related to your habits, behaviors, family medical history, or environment. For example, smoking is a risk factor for heart disease and lung cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet lightboth from the sun and from indoor tanning bedsis the primary risk factor for developing melanoma, and the risk grows with the amount of exposure. Sunburns at any age, but especially as a child, are a major risk factor for melanoma. By knowing your risk factors, you can take steps to reduce your chances of developing melanoma and increase your chances of finding the disease in its early, more treatable stages. Regular skin examinations, both by a health care professional and by you, may help spot a developing melanoma early, when it is more treatable.

The single most important risk factor for cutaneous melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet radiation. All of the following are risk factors for cutaneous melanoma:

Indoor & Intentional Tanning Facts

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  • Indoor tanning devices are proven to cause cancer and have been classified into the highest cancer risk category by the World Health Organizations International Agency for Cancer Research .11
  • A comprehensive meta-analysis concluded that the risk of cutaneous melanoma is increased by 75% when use of tanning devices starts before 30 years of age.11
  • Research has found that indoor tanning does not protect against sunburn.12
  • Having 5 or more blistering sunburns early in life increases ones melanoma risk by 80%.13


  • North American Association of Central Cancer Registries . Estimated deaths are based on 2003-2017 US mortality data, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Lotze MT, Dallal RM, Kirkwood JM, Flickinger JC. Cutaneous melanoma. In DeVita VT, Rosenberg SA, Hellman S. , Principles and Practice of Oncology, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 2001.
  • Bleyer A, OLeary M, Barr R, Ries LAG : Cancer epidemiology in older adolescents and young adults 15 to 29 years of age, including SEER incidence and survival: 1975-2000. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute 2006.
  • SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Melanoma of the Skin. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD,
  • Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2019. CA Cancer J Clin. 2019 doi: 10.3322/caac.21551
  • Content last updated: May 28, 2020

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    What Are Your Risk Factors

    Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for melanoma. You may be advised to have frequent skin exams at your provider’s office along with doing monthly skin exams for yourself at home. There are also things you can do that might lower your risk for melanoma, such as protecting yourself from the sun and not using tanning beds. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best ways to reduce your risks.

    Online Medical Reviewer:Online Medical Reviewer:Online Medical Reviewer:Date Last Reviewed:

    Modifiable Melanoma Risk Factors

    The innate melanoma risk factors above are out of our control. The main modifiable risk factor is limiting your exposure to ultraviolet rays.

    The following activities expose your skin to higher levels of UV rays and therefore put you at a higher risk:

    • Tanning in the sun or indoor tanning
    • Working outdoors e.g. in farming or construction
    • Living in a country where the sun is strong
    • Not wearing a hat or clothing to protect against the sun
    • Skipping sunscreen or using only a little

    Reaching the point of sunburn is a clear indicator that you are being exposed to too much UV light. 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers come from UV exposure.

    Being diagnosed with other, less serious forms of skin cancer does not automatically mean you will get melanoma. It does however indicate a higher level of risk.

    Melanoma is highly treatable if caught early. If you have genetic risk factors or have the higher levels of exposure to UV rays mentioned, it is vital to closely monitor your skin.


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    Family History And Genetic Factors

    Your risk of melanoma is higher if you have a close relative who has had melanoma. This is probably partly because we tend to share the same sort of colouring and skin type as our close relatives.

    Your risk is highest if:

    • your relative had melanoma when they were younger than 30
    • more than one first degree relative have had melanoma

    Classification Of Cutaneous Melanoma

    Treating Melanoma and 3 Important Risk Factors – Mayo Clinic

    In relation to clinical and histological features, melanoma can be divided into 3 main subtypes: superficial spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma and lentigo maligna melanoma.

    Superficial Spreading Melanoma . SSM is the most common type of melanoma accounting for approximately 70% of the cases. It is related to the intermittent exposure to the sun and it is localized most often on the back of the legs of women and on the backs of men. Superficial spreading melanomas may arise de novo or in association with a nevus . From the clinical point of view, this cancer shows a variety of colors including tan, brown, gray, black, violaceus, pink and rarely blue or white. The lesion outline is usually sharply marginated with one or more irregular peninsula-like protrusions. The surface may have a palpable papule or a nodule that extends several millimeters above the skin surface.

    Acral Lentiginous Melanoma . This skin cancer is uncommon, accounting for 5% of melanomas in white people but it is the most common type of melanoma among Asian, Hispanic and African patients. Typically, it affects elderly patients, with a female predominance. ALM is mainly localized on glabrous skin and adjacent skin of digits, palms and soles it usually involves the nail bed of the great toe or thumb .

    Other Rare Forms of melanoma have been also described, notably balloon cell melanoma, myxoid melanoma, osteogenic melanoma, rhabdoid melanoma, that will be discussed in another review.

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    Risk Factors For Keratinocytic Cancers

    Risk factors for basal cell carcinoma are similar to melanoma, except a lack of association with number of melanocyticnaevi. Family history of BCC is possibly more important than for melanoma. Data is lacking.

    Actinickeratosis and squamous cell carcinoma are primarily caused by cumulative sun damage rather than being associated with intermittent sunburn. Outdoor work and recreation and white skin that burns easily in the sun are relatively more important compared to melanoma and basal cell carcinoma.

    There are some syndromes that increase risk of SCC / BCC.

    • Basal cell naevus syndrome
    • Eruptive keratoacanthomas

    Immunosuppressive drugs markedly increase the risk of all skin cancers, but especially actinic keratoses and squamous cellcarcinomas. Organ transplant recipients should be under regular surveillance.

    The Risks The Causes What You Can Do

    Skin cancers like melanoma have damaged DNA in skin cells that lead to uncontrolled growth of these cells. Ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds damage DNA in your skin cells. Your immune system repairs some of this damage but not all. Over time, the remaining DNA damage can lead to mutations that cause skin cancer. Many other factors also play a role in increasing the risk for melanoma, including genetics , skin type or color, hair color, freckling and number of moles on the body.

    Understanding what causes melanoma and whether youre at high risk of developing the disease can help you prevent it or detect it early when it is easiest to treat and cure.

    These factors increase your melanoma risk:

    • Many moles: The more moles you have on your body, the higher your risk for melanoma. Also, having large moles , or any atypical moles, increases the risk for melanoma.
    • Fair skin: Melanoma occurs more frequently in people with fair skin, light eyes and light or red hair.
    • Skin cancer history: People who have already had melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancers run a greater risk of developing melanoma in the future.
    • Genetics: Melanoma can run in families one in every 10 patients has a family member who also has had the disease.

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    What Early Detection Examinations Are Available

    Early detection is aimed at people without symptoms and is offered to all people with statutory health insurance from the age of 35 every two years,Pictures Of Melanoma Cancers

    It is intended to help detect melanoma or other skin cancer as early as possible, preferably before the tumour has grown deeper into the tissue or formed metastases. The aim is to be able to treat the tumour better and cure it completely.

    For the early detection of skin cancer, a doctor takes a close look at the skin from head to toe, The skin folds and mucous membranes must also be looked at for a thorough examination.

    Independently of the skin cancer screening, you can also look for skin changes yourself and have conspicuous areas examined by a doctor,Melanoma Cancer Charity

    How Is Black Skin Cancer Treated

    Breast Cancer: Causes and Risk Factors

    If black skin cancer is diagnosed, surgery is usually attempted to remove the tumour,An advanced melanoma has already penetrated into deeper layers of the skin or has metastasized to other parts of the body,Treatment For Melanoma.

    If surgery is no longer possible or not enough, other treatments such as radiation or medicines can be useful. Depending on the type and stage of the tumour, different medicines may be considered.

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    A History Of Skin Cancer

    If you have had skin cancer in the past, you have a greater risk of developing melanoma in the future. This applies even if your previous cancer was nonmelanoma. So, to protect your skin and your health, be sure to continue getting ongoing, follow-up care to monitor your skin and watch for potential issues.

    If you have skin cancer and want treatment, or if you have a spot that concerns you, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.

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    Epidemiology And Risk Factors Of Melanoma

    Incidence Trends

    Cutaneous melanoma is by far the most common subtype of melanoma, accounting for more than 90% of melanoma cases .

    Since the Second World War, the incidence of CM has increased while Australian and North American data showed a stabilization of CM rates .

    In these countries, primary and secondary prevention campaigns have increased allowing to limit the damage mediated by UV rays. This has been obtained by increasing information diffusion on the importance of sun protection, by implementing diagnostic systems, such as dermoscopy, allowing for early suspicious diagnosis.

    Queensland epidemiological trends during the last 10 years, show a 5% decrease of thin melanoma incidence in young individuals between 15 and 24 years, suggesting that primary prevention efforts are being carried out successfully . On the other hand, a significant reduction in mortality in all age groups has not yet been observed .

    Melanoma is reported as the 19th most common cancer worldwide, with estimated age-adjusted incidence rates of 2.83.1 per 100,000 .

    The analysis of CM trends in Europe between 1995 and 2012, shows an incidence rate ranging from 5.6/100,000 inhabitants in Spain to 24/100,000 in Switzerland where there is the highest number of diagnosed in situ melanomas .

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    What Is The Course Of The Melanoma

    There are different types of melanoma that develop differently. Some grow only on the surface of the skin for a relatively long time and can be removed by minor surgery. Others penetrate deep into the skin and neighbouring tissue more quickly. They spread more easily through the blood or lymphatic system and form metastases in other parts of the body sooner. Without treatment, they can then lead to death within a few months.

    More than half of all melanomas are discovered at an early stage. Most of those affected survive the disease. Within ten years, about 11 out of 100 men and 6 out of 100 women with melanoma die Melanoma Prognosis

    What Is Melanoma

    Skin Cancer Risk Factors

    Melanoma develops from melanocytes . Melanoma usually occurs on parts of the body that have been sunburned. However, melanomas can sometimes start in parts of the skin or other parts of the body that have never been exposed to the sun.

    If detected early, most melanomas are curable.

    If melanomas are not detected until later, they can become more serious.

    A melanoma may appear as a new spot on normal skin, or develop from an existing mole. Melanomas usually begin as a flat spot that changes in size or shape or colour over months. While they remain flat they are generally curable. They usually remain flat for six to 12 months. Later, melanomas become bigger, irregular in shape and often darker in colour. A less common type of melanoma is not flat, but is raised from the start. These melanomas are often pink or red, and grow quickly. Not all melanomas are dark or black in colour.Visit the Cancer Council website to learn more about the different types of skin cancer and causes.

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    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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    Having Lots Of Moles And Unusual Moles

    People who have a lot of moles, especially those with over 100 moles, have a higher risk of getting melanoma. People with moles that are bigger than average, or that have an irregular shape or colour are also at higher risk. These types of moles rarely change into melanoma, but it is important to check them regularly for changes. Having lots of moles or irregular moles can run in some families.

    Your risk of melanoma is also increased if:

    • you were born with a dark, hairy mole
    • you were born with a large birth mark

    The risk from average size birth marks is very small.

    If you have lots of moles or unusual moles, you can be referred to a skin specialist for advice and an assessment of your skin.

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