Am I at Risk?
Anyone who is exposed to lots of sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) radiation is at risk for melanoma. However, some people have a higher risk of getting melanoma than others. Even dark-skinned people and those who tan without burning can get melanoma.
Take a moment to answer these 10 questions. If you answer "Yes" to any of these questions, you may have a higher risk for melanoma and should speak with your doctor. Your doctor can recommend steps you should take for finding melanoma early, and working to prevent it.
Even if you answer "No" to all of these questions, but have a mole that you are concerned about, you may want to speak to your doctor.
- 1. Has anyone in your family ever had melanoma?
- Melanoma sometimes runs in families, so people with two or more close relatives who have had melanoma have an increased risk of developing melanoma themselves.
- 2. Do you now have, or have you ever had, non-
cancerous, but unusual looking moles?
- Certain types of mole patterns are typical of an increased risk of getting melanoma, such as moles called dysplastic nevi.
- 3. Have you been diagnosed with melanoma in the past?
- People who have already had melanoma have an increased risk of getting melanoma in another place.
- 4. Are you taking any medications that might weaken
your immune system (for example, corticosteroids)?
- People with a weakened immune system—due to certain cancers, drugs given following organ transplants, or HIV/AIDS— have an increased risk of getting melanoma.
- 5. Do you have more than 50 ordinary moles?
- The risk of melanoma is greater for people with a large number of ordinary moles.
- 6. Did you have one or more severe, blistering sunburns
as a child or teenager?
- People who have had one or more severe, blistering sunburns as a child or teenager have an increased risk for melanoma. Sunburns in adulthood are also a risk factor for melanoma.
- 7. Do you have many freckles?
- Melanoma occurs more often in people with fair skin that freckles easily.
- 8. Do you have fair skin and light eyes?
- Melanoma occurs more often in people with fair skin that burns easily. These people also usually have red or blond hair and blue eyes. Fair-skinned people have less melanin in their skin and therefore less protection against the sun's damaging UV rays.
- 9. Do you live in the Southwestern United States?
- Melanoma is more common in people who live in areas with large amounts of UV radiation from the sun, such as the Southwestern United States.
- 10. Do you frequently spend time in the sun between
10 AM and 4 PM without skin protection?
- UV radiation from the sun is most intense when the sun is highest in the sky—generally midday, between 10 AM and 4 PM. Spending time in the sun during these hours increases your exposure to UV radiation and the risk for developing melanoma.