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What Increases Your Risk

A risk factor for melanoma is something that increases your chance of getting this cancer. Having one or more of these risk factors can make it more likely that you will get melanoma. But it doesn't mean that you will definitely get it. And many people who get melanoma don't have any of these risk factors.

Risk factors for melanoma include:1

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Understanding Skin Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment

All potentially cancerous skin growths must be biopsied to confirm a cancer diagnosis. Depending on the suspected type of skin cancer, the biopsy techniques vary slightly but crucially. Any potential melanoma requires a surgical biopsy, in which the entire growth is removed with a scalpel if possible. A pathologist then studies the sample under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present. If melanoma is diagnosed, other tests may be ordered to assess the degree of cancer spread (metastasis)...

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  • Too much exposure to the sun's UV rays. This includes:
    • Having had blistering sunburns at any time of life.
    • Getting intense sun exposure every now and then.
  • Fair skin that doesn't tan and tends to sunburn or freckle, along with blue or green eyes or red or blond hair.
  • Numerous moles and/or more than one atypical mole.
  • A large mole you have had since birth.
  • A personal or family history of melanoma.
  • Changes in your genes, like the change that causes a skin disease called Xeroderma pigmentosum.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 29, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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