Fast Five Quiz: Malignant Melanoma

William James, MD


August 21, 2020

Primary risk factors and clinical warning signs for melanoma include:

  • Changing mole (most important clinical warning sign)

  • Presence of xeroderma pigmentosum or familial atypical mole melanoma syndrome

  • Clinical atypical/dysplastic nevi in familial melanoma

  • Sporadic (nonfamilial) clinical atypical/dysplastic nevi (particularly > 5-10 nevi)

  • Melanoma in first-degree relative (especially multiple relatives)

  • A large number of common nevi (> 100)

  • Previous melanoma

  • Male sex

  • Age older than 50 years

  • Sun sensitivity or a history of excessive sun exposure or sunburns

  • Large (giant) congenital nevi (> 20 cm diameter)

  • Prior nonmelanoma skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma)

  • Immunosuppression

A fair-skin phenotype (blue/green eyes, blond or red hair, light complexion, sun sensitivity) and the occurrence of blistering sunburn(s) in childhood and adolescence are universal risk factors for melanoma. Individuals with these traits have been the focus of preventive efforts worldwide. Pregnancy or hormonal therapy with oral contraceptives or hormone replacement is not a risk factor for melanoma development.

Read more about risk factors for melanoma.


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