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Who is at risk for melanoma?

Dr. Jill Onesti, MD
Surgical Oncologist

Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can affect people regardless of age or race, but is more common in people with fair skin, red or blond hair and blue eyes. Exposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer, including melanoma. People with a family history of melanoma or people with a large number of moles also have increased risk for developing melanoma. A history of repeated sun exposure, tanning beds, or blistering sunburns in childhood also increase the likelihood of skin cancer. Regardless, melanoma can develop in anyone, and careful skin exams can help identify melanoma at an earlier stage.

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The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there were 68,720 new cases of melanoma and 8,650 deaths from melanoma in the United States in 2009. The lifetime risk of developing melanoma, says the ACS is about 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for blacks and 1 in 200 for Hispanics.

According to the National Cancer Institute, part of the United States National Institutes of Health, women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55% more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Frequent tanning bed use increases both men's and women’s risk of developing skin cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.