Risk Factors for Melanoma

Sunlight Exposure
Exposure to sunlight, especially a history of severe blistering sunburn, has been associated with increased risk of melanoma. Exposure to UV-B radiation accounts for about two-thirds of melanoma diagnoses. Artificial sunlight from tanning beds carries the same risk for melanoma as natural sunlight.

Fair Complexion
People with blond or red hair, light skin, blue eyes and a tendency to sunburn are at increased risk.

Previous Melanoma
For melanoma survivors, the risk of developing a second melanoma is 3 to 7%, much higher than the general population.

Moles (nevi)
The presence of large numbers of benign moles is associated with an increased risk of melanoma, although they are not likely a precursor of disease.

Family History/Genetics
At least four distinct genes may play a role in melanoma development, and specific gene mutations have been identified that may contribute to increased risk of melanoma.

Atypical Mole & Melanoma Syndrome (AMS)
Previously known as dysplastic nevus syndrome, AMS is characterized by large numbers of atypical moles, which can indicate increased risk. Although the likelihood of an atypical mole progressing to melanoma is small, AMS patients should be screened regularly, along with other family members.