Melanoma risk factors and how to reduce them

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Often the initial signs of melanoma are changes in the size, shape, colour, or feel of a mole. The majority of melanomas are dark coloured or have a black-blue surface.


Melanomas have been known to appear from an entirely new mole or develop from a preexisting mole on your body. We have listed some melanoma risk factors and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing the cancer.



Melanoma risk factors

The main melanoma risk factor that can cause damage to skin is exposure to UV radiation from the sun. A large number of melanomas are thought to be caused by exposure to UV radiation which causes damage to the DNA in skin cells leading to the development of abnormal skin cells and skin cancer. It is most common in people with fair skin.


Other melanoma risk factors include:

  • family history

  • a weakened immune system

  • damage caused by skin tanning

  • the presence of many and atypical moles



Reducing your risk of melanoma


Family history

Unfortunately, some people are genetically disposed to developing certain cancers. If someone in your family has had melanoma, your melanoma risk factor is higher. If this is the case, it is especially important that you get to know the early warning signs and have routine mole checks.


If you don't have a family history of melanoma, you should still know the early warning signs and get mole checks done.


The earlier melanoma is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Practice proper sun protection

Read our article tips on how to prevent skin cancer for advice on being safe in the sun. This advice includes stressing the importance of never sun tanning and getting to know your skin.



Be safe in the sun. Most melanomas are caused from exposure to UV radiation from the sun.



Identifying melanoma risk factors

Melanomas can develop on any area of the body. If you suspect a change in shape, colour, border or size of a mole organise an appointment with your doctor for a mole check.


If detected at an early stage wide local excision of the skin lesion is often very effective in preventing the spread of melanoma. A regular follow up and monitoring is vital as melanomas can recur in the same area or come up in an entirely new site. Additional tests may be recommended for people with advanced disease who may require further treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy in addition to surgery.




If you suspect you may be at risk, get in touch with your doctor for an appointment to check your moles.


For your convenience, we now offer Fotofinder automatic total body mole mapping. Total body photography is the best way to identify new moles and track potential changes to existing moles for the early detection of skin cancer.


Visit us at our skin cancer clinic for total-body mole mapping. Call us on 03 9741 1200 or book online to arrange an appointment for our Skin Cancer Clinic.


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