Skin cancer is the most common yet most preventable type of cancer in the United States. Melanoma is one of the deadliest skin cancers developed in melanocytes — cells that produce the coloring pigment melanin. During melanoma development, DNA mutations occur that lead to an uncontrollable growth of melanocytes. Early diagnosis and treatment of melanomas prevent its spread to other body parts. If left untreated, it can spread to other body parts, including the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat.
Anything that increases your chance of developing melanoma is called a risk factor. There are many risk factors for melanoma, and understanding whether you’re at high risk of developing melanoma can help you prevent it or detect it early.
Are you at risk of melanoma? To answer this, we are going to talk about factors that can increase your risk of developing melanoma and what you can do about them.
Exposure to Harmful UV Rays
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiations increase your chances of developing melanomas. While sunlight is the primary source of UV rays, sun lamps and tanning beds can also expose you to these rays. If you live in areas with bright sunlight year-round or at high altitudes, you are at a higher risk of melanomas. Having sunburns during childhood also increases the risk of getting melanoma in adulthood.
You can reduce UV exposure by avoiding frequent recreational outdoor activities. Also, wear sun-protective clothing and use broad-spectrum sunscreen throughout the year.
Having a Family History of Melanoma
Nearly 10% of people have a family history of melanoma. If your close relatives (parents, sisters, brother, or children) have been diagnosed with melanoma, your chances of melanomas are 2 to 3 times higher. Having a family history of melanomas requires you to have regular skin exams by a dermatologist.
Having Many Moles
A mole is a non-cancerous pigmented tumor. Moles are absent in babies and begin to appear in children and young adults. Having more than 50 ordinary moles indicates a risk of melanoma. Similarly, unusual moles called dysplastic nevi are also associated with melanomas. These moles are bigger, with irregular borders and a mixture of colors.
If you have such irregular moles, you should consult a dermatologist for a physical exam.
Having A Weakened Immune System
Your immune system helps fight various diseases, including cancers. Having a weakened immune system due to a particular illness or medical condition increases your risk of multiple types of skin cancers, including melanomas.
Strengthening your immune system will help prevent melanomas.
Having Fair Skin and Light Hair
The risk of melanoma development is much higher if you have white skin, blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes, and freckles. While having a fair complexion is a risk factor for melanoma, it can also develop in Hispanics and black people. You should examine your skin for new growths and changes regardless of your skin tone.
Melanoma Treatment in Miami, FL
If you think you have risk factors for melanoma and are seeking a reliable dermatologic surgeon in the Miami area, visit us at the Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center. Our board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Theodore John “TJ” Giuffrida, offers skin cancer screenings and treatment. He can also devise a skin cancer prevention strategy for you if you have a family history of skin cancer.
To schedule a consultation with us, call our dermatology clinic today at (305) 461-2000 or use our online appointment request form.