Skin Cancer in the Family? Watch Your Own Skin
Odds of Multiple Melanoma Skin Cancer Rise With Family History
Oct. 5, 2005 -- When one melanoma skin cancer appears, more often follow,
particularly in patients with a family history of melanoma, a new study
"These patients should undergo intensive dermatologic screening and
should consider genetic testing," write Cristina Ferrone, MD, and
Ferrone's team works at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Their study appears in The Journal of the American Medical
About Multiple Melanoma Skin Cancer Skin Cancer Findings
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. Here are some U.S. melanoma facts from
- Predicted new cases of invasive melanoma for 2005: 62,000
- Predicted melanoma deaths for 2005: 7,600
- Annual rise in number melanoma cases: 3%
- Men & melanoma: 5th most common cancer
- Women & melanoma: 6th most common cancer
Skin Cancer Findings
Ferrone's team studied more than 4,400 patients from Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who had their first melanoma diagnosed between
1996 and 2002. The patients were about 55 years old when they learned they had
melanoma skin cancer.
Some patients -- 385 people, or about 9% of the group -- had more than one
melanoma (multiple melanomas). They were more likely to have a family history
of melanoma or personal history of dysplastic nevi, or both. Dysplastic nevi
are abnormal moles that may become precancerous. The researchers note that they
may be present in 5% to 10% of the general population.
Among people with multiple melanomas, 21% had had a family relative with
melanoma. Only 12% of those with single melanoma had a family history of
melanoma. For those with multiple melanomas, 39% had a prior history of
dysplastic nevi vs. 18% of the people with single melanoma.
Family History Raises Risk
About 11% of patients with just one melanoma added a second melanoma within
People with one melanoma and a family history of melanoma were at higher
risk for additional melanomas. About 20% of them added more melanomas within
five years, the study shows.
Dermatologists can screen for skin cancer.
with the use of
sun block and appropriate clothing coverage is also important. Genetic testing
of high-risk patients could help scientists learn more about melanomas, write