We have all known that fair skinned people, as well as sunburn and cumulative lifelong sun exposure, increases a person’s risk of skin cancers and particularly malignant melanoma.
Melanoma is the dark or black skin cancer that has the potential to spread throughout the body and cause death. Another risk factor for Melanoma includes people with a family history of malignant melanoma and those who have dysplastic naevus syndrome.
Dysplastic Naevus Syndrome is a condition where there are numerous moles that are of different shapes, sizes and colours. Some are flat, and some are raised. They can be pale pink, or as deep as the darkest brown. They tend to occur mostly on the trunk, but also on upper arms and thighs. These people look like Dalmation dogs with the various coloured spots on them.
On 5 March, at a meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, Professor Darrell Rigel, dermatologist, presented some new research that added a few more risk factors for all of us to be aware of. He studied 600 people – 300 with malignant melanoma and 300 without, and studied 43 risk factors. He came to the conclusion that there were six risk factors that were significant and increased a person’s risk of malignant melanoma.
Those risk factors are:
Professor Rigel said that if you have one of these six risk factors your melanoma risk doubles or triples compared with the general population. If you have two or more of these factors, the risk multiplies by 5-10 times compared with the population. Anyone with three or more of these six factors have up to 10-20 times increased risk of developing a melanoma.
Professor Rigel also presented other conditions that have an association with malignant melanoma and they are:
So, the take home message here is to watch out for certain things:
Anyone with a family member who has had a malignant melanoma should have their skin checked yearly. Any new or suspicious mole should be checked immediately by a doctor.
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