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Melanoma Risk Factors

Causes of Melanoma -- Risk Factors

The dangers of the sun are more than skin deep. The protection you take against the sun's ultraviolet rays will dictate how much the sun has affected your skin. A sunblock is essential to providing the coverage you need to protect yourself from melanoma. Other steps you may want to take to rejuvenate or refresh your skin are to consider laser skin resurfacing or microdermabrasion; wrinkles and fine lines can also be treated with dermal fillers to soften your appearance and create a more youthful appearance. For some patients, a Fraxel laser to remove sun spots, age spots and wrinkles may be needed. 

Genetics and lifestyle contribute to developing melanoma and other types of skin cancers. The biggest threat? UV (ultraviolet) rays from natural or artificial sources. Sunlight and indoor tanning beds are responsible for 65% of melanomas. Some people are more susceptible than others to UV radiation. For those who develop cutaneous melanomas of the head and neck, high levels of total sun exposure (without the aid of SPF) have occurred on that region of the body on a consistent basis. Alternatively, if melanomas develop on the trunk, it is usually due to recreational exposure of the chest and back to the sun’s damaging UV rays. The risk factors for developing melanoma include:
  • Family history is a factor to consider. If one or more of your family members have been diagnosed with melanoma, your risk of diagnosis will be higher due to possible shared physical traits (light skin, light eyes) or inherited gene mutations.
  • People who have suffered from other skin cancers have a heightened risk of developing melanoma. If you have been previously diagnosed with melanoma, there is a 5-10% chance you will develop another melanoma.
  • If your immune system is weakened due to other cancers, auto-immune diseases or post-transplant drugs, your risk of developing melanoma is much higher.
  • Severe sunburns at any point in your life, but especially when young, can increase your risk. A blistering sunburn can double your chances of developing melanoma later in life. 
  • Tanning beds (which can triple your chances) are one of the most major risk factors. For those under 30, just by using tanning beds you are increasing your risk of developing melanoma by 75%. 
  • Age plays a factor when it comes to melanoma. It is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25 to 29 years-old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15 to 29 years-old. 
  • If you have moles on your skin (especially in excess of 50 moles) with flat sections, varying shades of pigment or uneven edges--you have a higher chance of developing melanoma.
  • Since melanoma occurs more often in skin that burns or freckles easily, those with fair skin must take precautions. If you have light eyes or hair, your risk of melanoma is also higher.
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Melanoma Safety Guide

  1. What is Melanoma? How can it be prevented? 
  2. Causes of Melanoma--Risk Factors (You are here.)
  3. Facts about Melanoma
  4. Melanoma Detection
  5. Self-Check for Melanoma
  6. Find a Doctor for Melanoma
  7. Melanoma Diagnosis
  8. Treatment of Melanoma
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