• Main Page • Risk Factors • Symptoms • Diagnosis • Treatment • Screening • Reducing Your Risk • Talking to Your Doctor • Living With Melanoma • Resource Guide
Risk Factors for Melanoma
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop melanoma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing melanoma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk factors for melanoma include:
Excessive Sun Exposure
The occurrence of melanoma has been linked with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Therefore, exposing your skin to UV rays from the sun or tanning lamps increases your odds of developing melanoma. People who live in sunny climates are exposed to more sunlight. People who live at high altitudes, where the sunlight is strongest, are exposed to more UV radiation. Blistering sunburns, even as a child, also increase the risk of developing melanoma.
Your Skin's Condition
Having melanoma once increases your risk of developing it again.
Having many moles or large moles increases your risk of melanoma. Also, irregular moles are more likely to turn into melanoma than normal moles. Irregular moles are characterized by:
Most melanomas are diagnosed in young adults and older adults.
Family members of people with melanoma are at greater risk of developing the disease than people with no family history of the disease. People with a disease called xeroderma pigmentosa (XP) are at a very increased risk of developing melanoma. This rare disease does not allow patients to repair sun-damaged DNA, therefore any sun exposure will result in damage and mutations that become melanomatous. It is not unusual for these people to develop hundreds of melanomas on their skin. Similarly, people with hereditary dysplastic nevus syndrome or familial atypical multiple mole melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome are also at increased risk for developing melanoma.
Caucasians are more likely than black, Hispanic and Asian people to develop melanoma.
Most people who develop melanoma tend to burn rather than tan when exposed to sunlight. These people tend to have fair skin, freckles, red or blonde hair, or blue-colored eyes.
Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated April 3, 2013. Accessed April 8, 2013.
Melanoma risk factors. Melanoma Research Foundation website. Available at: http://www.melanom... . Accessed April 8, 2013.
Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.... . Updated January 17, 2013. Accessed April 8, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org