Family history and inherited genetic predisposition
Sun exposure habits
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) is one of the major contributors to the development of melanoma. Why?
UV radiation causes damage to the DNA of cells, creating mutations in the cell’s genes. When the cell divides, these mutations are propagated to new generations of cells and in certain instances this leads to the formation of a tumor.
Occasional extreme sun exposure (resulting in “sunburn”) is causally related to melanoma. Melanoma is most common on the back in men and on legs in women (areas of intermittent sun exposure). The risk appears to be strongly influenced by socioeconomic conditions rather than indoor versus outdoor occupations; it is more common in professional and administrative workers than unskilled workers.
Use of sun beds (with deeply penetrating UVA rays) has been linked to the development of skin cancers, including melanoma.
Exposure during childhood is a more important risk factor than exposure in adulthood. Individuals with blistering or peeling sunburns (especially in the first twenty years of life) have a significantly greater risk for melanoma.
Fair and red-headed people, persons with multiple atypical nevi or dysplastic nevi and persons born with giant congenital melanocytic nevi are at increased risk.
A family history of melanoma greatly increases a person’s risk Patients with a history of one melanoma are at increased risk of developing a second primary tumor.
The incidence of melanoma has increased in the recent years, but it is not clear to what extent changes in behavior, in the environment, or in early detection are involved.