Melanoma (Skin Cancer) - Risk Factors and Causes

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What are the causes and risk factors for melanoma?

Guideline # 5: Individual sunburns do raise your risk of melanoma. However, slow daily sun exposure, even without burning, may also substantially raise your risk of skin cancer.

Factors that raise your risk for melanoma include:

  • Caucasian (white) ancestry
  • Fair skin, light hair, and light-colored eyes
  • A history of intense, intermittent sun exposure, especially in childhood
  • Many (more than 100) moles
  • Large, irregular, or "funny looking" moles
  • Close blood relatives -- parents, siblings, and children -- with melanoma

The presence of close (first-degree) family with melanoma is a high risk factor, although looking at all of melanoma, only 10% of cases run in families.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Mamat78, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 01

My sister passed away at the very young age of 31 as a result of melanoma. I was diagnosed with stage 1B melanoma four years ago. It was removed surgically; I went in every six months for a check. I have been cancer free, but the fear is so great. I have been told a lot of the time it will return; sometimes it actually will be in the same area that it was removed.

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