Melanoma Causes and Risk Factors

Melanoma Causes and Risk Factors | St Louis | Shiloh DermatologyWhile every person is at some level of risk for melanoma, higher risks depend on various factors such as sun exposure, skin type, number of moles present on the skin, and genetics.

Kind board certified dermatologist Dr. Jamie McGinness and Jackie McGinness, FNP (Nurse Practitioner), who both treat general derm patients, provide skin care treatments to patients in Shiloh, IL; St. Louis, MO, and other suburbs and neighborhoods in this part of the country.


Sun Exposure

Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer, including melanoma. The risk increases in case of blistering sunburns in early childhood. However, cumulative sun exposure and sunburns later in life can also cause cancer.

Individuals living in areas with more sunlight are more susceptible to skin cancers, but some northern locations with populations that are light-skinned also experience a high rate of cancer.

The use of tanning booths or beds is not advisable since it heightens the risk of UV ray exposure increasing the chances of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.



The two types of moles include normal moles which are the small brown blemishes, growths, or “beauty spots” that appear in the initial few decades of life in most people. The second type of mole is atypical moles (dysplastic nevi).

Atypical moles may lead to melanoma, and these moles increase the possibility of developing skin cancer. Regardless, the risk of skin cancer is proportional to the number of moles. Individuals with 50 or more moles are believed to be at a higher risk for melanoma.


Skin Type

People with fairer skin, who usually have lighter eye and hair color as well, are at a higher risk of developing skin cancers including melanoma. To know your skin type, take our Skin Type Quiz by clicking here.


Personal History

People who have had melanoma previously face an increased possibility of recurrence. Individuals who have or have had BCC or SCC are at a higher risk of developing melanoma as well.


Weakened Immune System

Chemotherapy, excessive sun exposure, an organ transplant, and conditions such as lymphoma or HIV/AIDS can increase the risk of melanoma development.


Family History

One in every 10 patients diagnosed with melanoma has a family history of the disease. Every person with a first-degree relative who has melanoma has a 50 percent higher possibility of developing the condition in comparison to people with no family history of the disease.


Family Syndrome

Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma Syndrome (FAMMM) refers to a condition where atypical moles are found in a person from a melanoma-prone family.

Individuals with this syndrome are at a higher risk of developing melanoma. Conversely, a study indicates that family member who did not have atypical moles faced a much lesser risk of melanoma development.


Active Moles

Individuals belonging to melanoma-prone families are subject to mole changes at specific times of their lives. The moles may become larger or change elevation or color, and are described as being active for those durations.

The reason for these changes is not entirely understood. However, it may be related to hormonal fluctuations. During puberty and pregnancy, moles are more active. At-risk people are recommended to not take hormonal meds such as oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy by some, but not all, doctors.

Board certified dermatologist Dr. Jamie McGinness and Jackie McGinness, FNP (Nurse Practitioner) receive patients from Shiloh, IL; St. Louis, MO, and nearby areas for various skin treatments.

If you would like to learn more about procedures and treatments at Metro East Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center by Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Jamie L. McGinness please contact us here or call (618) 622-SKIN (7546)

Taking new patients in and around the greater St. Louis, Missouri and Illinois area: East St. Louis Missouri, Shiloh Illinois, Belleville, Millstadt, Saint Clair County, Madison County and more.

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