Melanoma: Who gets and causes

Melanoma: Who gets, causes

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Who gets melanoma?

Anyone can get melanoma. Most people who get it have light skin, but people who have brown and black skin also get melanoma.

Some people have a higher risk of getting melanoma. These people have the following traits:

Skin

  • Fair skin (The risk is higher if the person also has red or blond hair and blue or green eyes).
  • Sun-sensitive skin (rarely tans or burns easily).
  • 50-plus moles, large moles, or unusual-looking moles.

If you have had bad sunburns or spent time tanning (sun, tanning beds, or sun lamps), you also have a higher risk of getting melanoma.

Men older than 50 are at a higher risk for developing skin cancers, including melanoma. Learning how to check your skin and getting skin exams can help detect skin cancer.

Family/medical history

  • Melanoma runs in the family (parent, child, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle had melanoma).
  • You had another skin cancer, but most especially another melanoma.
  • A weakened immune system.
                woman lying in tanning bed Research shows that indoor tanning increases a person's melanoma risk by 75%. The risk also may increase if you had breast or thyroid cancer.

More people getting melanoma

Fewer people are getting most types of cancer. Melanoma is different. More people are getting melanoma. Many are white men who are 50 years or older. More young people also are getting melanoma. Melanoma is now the most common cancer among people 25-29 years old. Even teenagers are getting melanoma.

What causes melanoma?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major contributor in most cases. We get UV radiation from the sun, tanning beds, and sun lamps. Heredity also plays a role. Research shows that if a close blood relative (parent, child, sibling, aunt, uncle) had melanoma, a person has a much greater risk of getting melanoma.

Learn more about melanoma:

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