Melanoma is a form of skin cancer, and it forms when the cells that manage the pigment in your skin (melanocytes) grow uncontrollably. Compared to other types of skin cancer, melanoma is much less common. However, when it does occur, it presents a greater health risk than other skin cancer types because it’s more likely to spread to other areas of the body. This is why prevention, as well as early detection and treatment, is crucial in cases of melanoma. 

If you have one or more family members with melanoma, your risk for developing this type of skin cancer is higher than those without a family history of melanoma. Continue reading to learn more. 

Familial Melanoma

Familial melanoma is a genetic condition. Two genes are currently connected to familial melanoma, and a mutation in one of these genes will make the chances of developing melanoma higher. However, mutations in these genes aren’t the only reasons behind familial melanoma, and there is much research still to be done on why family history impacts melanoma risk. 

The risk of inheriting melanoma is relatively low. About 8 percent of melanoma patients have a parent, child, or sibling with melanoma. Additionally, familial melanoma can be difficult to diagnose because lifestyle is a big factor in melanoma risk. In fact, medical experts don’t know whether familial melanoma is caused solely by genetic mutations or simply because many relatives have comparable lifestyle habits. 

Managing a Family History of Melanoma

No matter the root of familial melanoma, if you have one or more relatives with melanoma, it’s important to know that your risk of developing melanoma is automatically higher, so it’s essential to take precautions not only to quickly identify any signs of melanoma, but also to prevent the development of melanoma. 

Here are some quick melanoma prevention tips:

  • Wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) 15 to 30 minutes before any sun exposure and continue to apply throughout the day. 
  • Don’t use tanning beds. 
  • Limit time in the sun around midday, when the UV rays are the most intense. 
  • Read the expiration date of your sunscreen and replace it as needed. 
  • Schedule a skin exam at least once per year with a skin cancer expert. 

At The Bowman Institute, skin cancer is our sole focus. If you have a family history of melanoma, visit our center for thorough screening skin examinations, non-surgical treatments for pre-cancers and sun damage, biopsy, and more.