Melanoma is considered to be the most serious type of skin cancer. This cancer develops in the melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin in our body. This condition can also form in the eyes but rarely in the intestines. Knowing the risk factors for melanoma will help you understand the condition better. Let’s discuss them here.
- Sun Exposure
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays plays an important role in the development of this cancer and is one of the major risk factors for melanoma. People living at high altitudes, or at places where the sun is too bright all year-round are at higher risk of developing skin cancer. Exposure to tanning beds and sun lamps also puts you at risk.
A person with many moles is at risk of developing melanoma. Some people have many moles; these moles are called dysplastic nevi or atypical moles. They have an irregular shape or color. They can be found on both, a sun-exposed body part or an unexposed one. Atypical moles are often hereditary.
- Fair skin
People with a fair complexion, blonde or red hair, blue eyes, and freckles look pretty but all these features increase the risk for melanoma. Caucasians are at a higher risk of melanoma than African Americans.
- Family history
A family history of this type of skin cancer is also counted among the risk factors for melanoma. If any of your close family members have had melanoma, then the chances of you getting melanoma increases by 2 to 3 times. If there is a history of melanoma in your family, it’s advisable to go for regular check-ups and tests.
- Familial melanoma
Though this is very rare, a few families with a history of melanoma can pass down this skin condition from one generation to the next.
- Personal history of skin cancer
People who have had melanoma in their lifetime are at higher risk of developing new melanomas. History of basal cell or squamous skin cancer in a person is also one of the risk factors for melanoma.
Studies show that most melanoma patients are males. If you are a male, then you are at a higher risk of developing melanoma.
Though melanoma can develop at any age, it mostly occurs in older people, above the age of 50 years. However, if you have a family history of melanoma, you can get affected at an early age as well.
- Weakened immune system
People with a weak immune system are at higher risk of developing various types of skin cancer, including melanoma. People who have undergone organ transplants, or suffer from HIV have weak immune systems and are prone to develop melanoma.
After knowing the risk factors for melanoma, you can consult your doctor and ask for advice if you have a family history or any other factor that makes you prone to this type of skin cancer.