Melanoma is a very serious type of skin cancer. It is caused by the abnormal growth of skin cells known as melanocytes. Overexposure of UV light is one of the main causes of melanoma, but there are several risk factors that can affect people.
Ultraviolet Light Exposure
UV light is a large risk factor for melanoma. UV light comes from the sun and from tanning beds and lamps. The longer a person is exposed to UV light from any source, the greater the risk of melanoma.
UV light is thought to cause melanoma in a couple of ways. UVA and UVB rays contribute to DNA damage in skin cells. UVA ages cells while UVB directly damages their DNA. Damaged DNA can cause trouble with cell growth, which increases the chance of melanoma developing.
A person’s physical attributes determine their risk of developing melanoma. People who have fair skin are at a greater risk of getting melanoma as are people who have a light eye or hair color. Fair skin is less protected from UV rays when compared to darker skin.
The number of moles a person has also determined their risk of getting melanoma. People who have more than 50 moles are at an increased risk. Another factor is the type of mole. Abnormal moles that are flat, fuzzy, or larger than usual can all increase a person’s risk of melanoma.
Another reason a person could be at risk for developing melanoma is if they have a family history of this cancer. People who have a parent or sibling that had melanoma are at an increased risk. A family history that has members with light skin or gene mutations are a couple of possible reasons why the risk is higher. Furthermore, anyone that had melanoma in the past has a higher chance of developing it again.
Immune System Problems
Anyone with an immune system that is suppressed or weakened has a higher risk of melanoma. A weak immune system can be caused by medicines, diseases, or a number of other problems. Weak immune systems are unable to kill off cancer cells that develop.
Gender and Age
Males in the US are at an increased overall risk of getting melanoma. However, women under 40 years old are more likely to get melanoma while men over 40 have a higher risk of developing it.