In short, people of any age, race and gender can get melanoma. But of course, there are people that fall into the high risk for melanoma category, which we will explain in more detail below.
There are a few groups of people that fit into this category. So who is most at risk for melanoma?
Melanoma running in the family
If your family has a history of melanoma cases, you will be exposed to a higher risk for melanoma too. Melanoma is often seen in families. In some cases, it’s possible to run tests for certain genes, but this is (unfortunately) not always an option. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you have melanoma in the family.
Skin type 1 & 2
You might not even know it, but everyone on the planet falls into a certain skin type category. This runs from 1 (very light skinned) to 6 (very dark skinned) and is called the Fitzpatrick scale. This is a skin classification system first developed in 1975 by Thomas Fitzpatrick, MD, of Harvard Medical School. His skin classification system and its adaptations are familiar to dermatologists. This can be one of the factor risks for melanoma.
You fit into skin type 1 when you have the following characteristics; Very light skin. You always burn and never tan in the sun. You have red or blonde hair and blue, gray or green eyes. You have many or at least several moles on your body.
You fit into skin type 2 when you have the following characteristics; Light skin. You almost always burn and rarely tan in the sun. You have dark blonde or light brown hair, and hazel or light brown eyes. You at least have a few moles on your skin.
Having moles on your body
As you already read above, moles are a characteristic of people with high-risk skin types. Skin cancer commonly grows from moles, although it can also appear on other parts of the skin. But if you do have moles, make sure to monitor those regularly. Bigger moles and many moles mean bigger risk for melanoma as well.
Exposure to UV
Sun is the biggest cause of skin cancer. Or more specifically, UV exposure from the sun is. Of course, the sun is also very important to us; it supplies vitamin D and makes us feel happy and healthy. But the UV radiation in the sun, which makes us tan and also burn, is dangerous. Make sure to always apply sunscreen when you are in the sun to block those UV-rays and keep your skin safe.
We started this article by stating that people of any age can get melanoma skin cancer. That is true, although age is a factor. For young people, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers. That’s because other types of cancer see fewer cases during youth. But the most cases of melanoma are seen in the group aged 50+. This can be explained by the amount of UV exposure they have seen during their life. But again, melanoma could appear at every age.
In any case, make sure to keep a close look at your skin and monitor regularly. Make sure to keep an eye out for the symptoms, further information and photos can be found here. If you feel uncomfortable about any spot, always go and see your doctor.