Causes and Diagnoses
Melanoma Causes and Diagnoses
The exact cause of melanoma is unknown, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing melanoma. Risk factors include:
- Age: Melanoma is more common in older individuals, but it is one of the most common cancers in younger individuals
- Gender: Men have a higher overall risk; women are most at risk before age 40
- Exposure to sunlight's UV rays
- Tanning bed and sunlamp use: Artificial tanning has been linked to an increased melanoma risk.
- Having abnormal or many moles
- Having light hair and fair skin
- Family history of melanoma
- Personal history of melanoma
- Certain rare, inherited conditions, such as xeroderma pigmentosum (XP)
- A weakened immune system
Northwestern Medicine dermatologists assess and diagnose moles and melanoma by conducting skin examinations and taking samples of suspicious-looking moles (biopsy). Dermatologists may also recommend a yearly skin exam for people who have numerous moles or an increased risk of melanoma and skin cancer.