The evidence came from a US study that captured data from 600 individuals, half of whom had a history of melanoma, to determine which factors were most often linked with the development of melanoma. From the findings the researchers were able to create a new model of the risk factors that could eventually help screen individuals to determine their risk level.
The six factors identified were:
1. History of blistering sunburns as a teenager
2. Red or blonde hair
3. Marked freckling on the upper back – a sign of excessive sun exposure
4. Family history of melanoma
5. History of Actinic Keratoses (scaly or crusty patches of skin on sun exposed areas)
6. Outdoor summer jobs for three or more years as a teenager
If you have one of these risk factors then the risk of you getting a melanoma goes up two-three fold over the general population. Individuals with two or more of these risk factors have a five-ten fold increase increase of getting melanoma and people with at least three risk factors are up to 10 – 20 times more likely to develop melanoma.
Of course these are not the only known melanoma risk factors and there are many other potential contributing causes including:
- a genetic predisposition for melanoma (as yet scientists have not been able to identify the gene responsible for causing melanoma)
- use of tanning beds has been shown to increase the risk of getting melanoma
- people with atypical or funny looking moles and /or a large number of moles
- higher socio economic classes have been linked to an increase incidence of melanoma. This has been attributed to spending more time in the sun whilst on summer holidays
“Dermatologists continually look for clues as to who is most likely to develop melanoma and this ongoing research will likely help more people understand their own risk factors and may convince them to get regular skin cancer screens” said Dr Rigel, clinical professor of the New York University Medical Centre.
Anyone with one or more known melanoma risk factors should conduct regular self skin checks and visit a skin specialist.
To have your moles assessed by a MoleMap specialist either book online or phone 0800 MOLEMAP (0800 665 3627).