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Melanoma risk management

A person in the general population has about a 2.5 percent lifetime risk of developing melanoma. This means that 1 out of every 40 people will get melanoma in their lifetime. There are factors that can affect risk.

Genes linked to melanoma risk 

Inherited mutations in the following genes have been linked to an increased risk for melanoma:

Even in the absence of an , people with a family history of melanoma have an increased risk.

Other factors linked to melanoma risk

Other factors that increase a person’s risk for melanoma include:

  • Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases the risk for skin cancer, including melanoma. People who live in sunny climates or at high altitudes have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. People who spend a lot of time outside during the midday hours also have a higher risk.
  • Using tanning beds can increase the risk for all types of skin cancer, including melanoma.
  • People with many moles or certain types of irregular moles, called dysplastic nevi have a higher risk for melanoma. 
  • Having fair skin, blond or red hair, blue eyes, and freckles increase the risk for melanoma. White people have a higher risk for melanoma than black people. People who have a tendency to burn rather than tan are also at high risk. ahad 
  • People who had a previous diagnosis of skin cancer are at increased risk for developing melanomas.
  • People who have a weakened immune systems have a higher risk for skin cancer, including melanoma.

Last updated December 21, 2022

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If you learn that you are at high risk for melanoma, you may also need to see an ophthalmologist who can screen for melanoma in your eyes.

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updated: 04/08/2023