Factors that may increase your risk of melanoma include:
Jan. 28, 2016
- Fair skin. Having less pigment (melanin) in your skin means you have less protection from damaging UV radiation. If you have blond or red hair, light-colored eyes, and freckle or sunburn easily, you're more likely to develop melanoma than is someone with a darker complexion. But melanoma can develop in people with darker complexions, including Hispanics and blacks.
- A history of sunburn. One or more severe, blistering sunburns can increase your risk of melanoma.
- Excessive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Exposure to UV radiation, which comes from the sun and from tanning lights and beds, can increase the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.
- Living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation. People living closer to the earth's equator, where the sun's rays are more direct, experience higher amounts of UV radiation than do those living in higher latitudes. In addition, if you live at a high elevation, you're exposed to more UV radiation.
- Having many moles or unusual moles. Having more than 50 ordinary moles on your body indicates an increased risk of melanoma. Also, having an unusual type of mole increases the risk of melanoma. Known medically as dysplastic nevi, these tend to be larger than normal moles and have irregular borders and a mixture of colors.
- A family history of melanoma. If a close relative — such as a parent, child or sibling — has had melanoma, you have a greater chance of developing a melanoma, too.
- Weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems, such as those who've undergone organ transplants, have an increased risk of skin cancer.
- What you need to know about melanoma and other skin cancers. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/wyntk-skin-cancer. Accessed April 28, 2015.
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Melanoma. In: Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 28, 2015.
- Habif TP. Nevi and malignant melanoma. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 28, 2015.
- Intraocular (eye) melanoma treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/intraocularmelanoma/patient. Accessed April 28, 2015.
- Detect skin cancer. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/detect-skin-cancer. Accessed April 28, 2015.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Final recommendation statement: Skin cancer screening. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/skin-cancer-screening. Accessed April 28, 2015.
- Melanoma. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed April 28, 2015.
- Reed KB, et al. Increasing incidence of melanoma among young adults: An epidemiological study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2012;87:328.