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Christine 04-24-2006 06:29 PM

Risk factor Melanomas
Risk factors for melanoma include:

* Family history of melanoma
* Dysplastic nevi (noncancerous, but unusual-looking moles)
* Previous melanoma
* Immunosuppressive therapy
* Many nevi (ordinary moles): more than 50
* Severe, blistering sunburns
* Many freckles
* Fair skin, light eyes

Melanoma occurs more often in people with fair skin that burns or freckles easily. These people also usually have red or blond hair and blue eyes. Melanoma is also more common in people who live in areas with large amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, such as the Southwestern United States.

People who have had one or more severe, blistering sunburns as a child or teenager are at increased risk for melanoma also. Because of this, doctors advise parents to protect their children's skin from the sun. Sunburns in adulthood are also a risk factor for melanoma.

Melanoma also sometimes runs in families, so people with two or more close relatives who have had melanoma also have an increased risk.

Certain types of mole patterns are also associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma, such as having dysplastic nevi (unusual moles). The risk of melanoma is greater for people with a large number of dysplastic nevi - for example, more than 50.

Also, people with a weakened immune system due to certain cancers, drugs given following organ transplants, or HIV/AIDS are at increased risk of developing melanoma.

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