Am I at Risk of Developing Melanoma?

melanoma, apex medical center

Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in skin cells that are called melanocytes. Melanocytes manufacture melanin, which is a brown pigment. The number of people who have melanoma has been growing for the last 40 years.

The Melanoma Research Foundation lists 10 risk factors for melanoma. If you have any five or more, you should discuss your risk for developing melanoma with your healthcare provider at Apex Medical Center. You may need to take extra precautions or have a skin exam more frequently than someone with a lower risk.

Light skin, hair, and eyes

People with darker skin, hair, and eyes have slightly more protection against harmful UV rays from the sun than people with lighter skin, hair, and eyes. That doesn’t mean people with darker coloration have no risk, but it is lower than those with blonde or red hair, pale skin, or blue eyes.

Exposure to UV radiation

If you work outside all day, or you spend most of your spare time outside, you have a higher risk of melanoma than someone who doesn’t. You can limit your exposure with proper clothing and by using sunscreen.

Use of tanning beds

If you’re under the age of 30 and use a tanning bed, you have a 75% higher risk of developing melanoma than someone who doesn’t use a tanning bed.

Sunburns during childhood

Even one sunburn that results in blistering when you’re a child doubles your risk of later developing melanoma. Make sure your children are protected to reduce their risk.

Many moles

Everyone has moles, but if you have a higher-than-average number of moles, you also have a greater risk of being diagnosed with melanoma. Having 50 or more moles on your body is a risk factor.

Family history

There does seem to be a genetic predisposition to developing melanoma. If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed, your risk is higher.

Age and Sex

Certain age groups have a higher risk of melanoma. For example, men over the age of 50 are diagnosed with melanoma more often than any other group.

Previous melanoma

If you had melanoma already, you’re at a higher risk of having it again.

Previous diagnosis of another type of skin cancer

If you’ve had basal or squamous cell carcinoma, you have a higher risk of developing melanoma.

Compromised immune system

Certain conditions can weaken your immune system. For example, some types of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions can impact your immune system and raise your risk of developing melanoma.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself if you have a high risk of developing melanoma. Additionally, outcomes are far better when melanoma is detected early.

By discussing your risk of melanoma with your care provider at Apex Medical Center, you’re taking proactive steps to protect yourself.  

You can book an appointment online or by phone, and begin learning about your risk of melanoma right away. The sooner you begin protecting your skin, the better.

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