5 Risk Factors for Melanoma

Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer in the United States. For perspective, one in five Americans develop skin cancer by age 70, and more than two people die from the disease each hour.

There are several types of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most serious and can put your life at risk. Fortunately, it’s also relatively rare, and early detection can increase your chances of successfully treating the condition.

Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, performs skin cancer surgery to remove melanoma at Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas. While anyone can develop skin cancer, these five factors can increase your risk of developing melanoma.

1. Light skin

Everyone should try to protect their skin, but it’s even more important for people with light skin who also have the following characteristics:

You should also take extra precautions with your skin if you have a lot of moles, especially any that seem atypical or unusual. These types of moles usually have an irregular shape or color and should be monitored closely.

However, while you should watch freckles and moles closely, nearly 70% of melanomas do not develop from preexisting moles. Instead, they form on otherwise “normal” or unblemished skin. Furthermore, melanoma spots often contain different colors in the same spots, such as shades of tan, brown or black, or areas of white, red, or blue.

2. Family history

Unfortunately, an estimated 10% of people with melanoma have a family history of the condition. So, if you have a close relative — such as a child, sibling, or parent, with melanoma — your risk of developing the disease increases 2-3 times compared to the national average. 

It’s also possible to inherit certain genetic conditions that can increase your chances of developing melanoma, including:

Some hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndromes can also increase your risk of developing melanoma.

3. Sun exposure and tanning

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is a leading cause of skin cancer, either through spending time in the sun or by using indoor tanning. UV light can damage the DNA inside your skin cells, which can lead to abnormal cell growth. 

You can protect your skin from UV light by limiting your sun exposure during midday, wearing sunscreen with an SPF factor of least 30, wearing sun-protective clothing, and avoiding recreational and indoor tanning. 

4. Age

The median age for diagnosis is just above 50. That means that half of the people diagnosed are age 50 or older, and, consequently, the other half are under age 50. 

It’s also important to note that, while melanoma occurs more frequently in older individuals, it’s one of the most common cancers in individuals under age 30, especially young women

Melanomas that run in families also appear more often at a younger age.

5. 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.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Common Signs of Gallbladder Disease

The gallbladder may be small, but it can cause serious discomfort when issues arise. So how do you know when your symptoms are due to gallbladder disease? Keep reading to learn the most common signs of a problem.

Effective Treatments for Your Pilonidal Cyst

If you have a painful lump near your tailbone, it’s likely a pilonidal cyst. This problem can seem embarrassing, but they become a distant memory in no time when you get the right treatment. Keep reading to learn more.

What to Expect from Your Wound Debridement

No matter what causes a wound, it always requires healthy tissue to heal. That’s where surgical wound debridement comes into play. It removes debris, dirt, and dead tissue from a wound to encourage healing in the area. Here’s what you should know.

4 Lifestyle Habits for Managing Your Hernia Symptoms

There are several kinds of hernias, but they often share the same cause: too much strain on weakened tissue. Fortunately, there are ways to manage hernia symptoms and avoid ongoing problems, before and after treatment.

What Causes Lipomas?

Do you have a fatty lump on your body that moves when you touch it? It could be a lipoma. These growths usually aren’t serious or life-threatening, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bothersome. Read on to learn more.