Melanoma: Exploring Hereditary Factors and Optimal Screening Methods

Melanomas arise from pigment cells. They are located all over the body, especially in the epidermis. Often on the trunk in men and on the legs in women. Usually a melanoma arises from a birthmark.

The following ABCD method is often used to recognize a melanoma on your skin:

  • Asymmetry: the stain is not the same shape on both sides.
  • Borders: The stain has a faint, sometimes tapered, ragged edge.
  • Color: the stain consists of different colors (white, brown, black and red).
  • Diameter: the spot is a lot bigger than a normal birthmark (the rule is a diameter of more than 6 millimeters).

For itching and other irritation

It is also advisable to consult a doctor if a birthmark bleeds and/or irritates with stinging, itching and inflammation. Increased risk of melanoma: total number of moles > 100, light complexion, blond or red hair, blue eyes and freckles.

Types of melanoma

The most common melanoma form is superficial spreading melanoma (70%), nodular type (20%) grows both in depth and laterally, lentigo maligna melanoma (5%) and the rare acrolentigenic melanoma (about 5%) occurs on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or under the nail.

About 2% of melanomas occur in people younger than 20 years and 0.3-0.4% in prepubescent children.

The hereditary form

Familial melanoma / FAMMM (familial atypical multiple mole melanoma) syndrome is defined as 3 or more melanomas, 2 of which occur in first degree relatives (parents, children, brothers and sisters). In about 10% of cases, melanoma is hereditary in the family and in 40% of cases there is a CDKN2A gene abnormality.

If you are a carrier of this gene defect, the lifetime risk increases to 70% at the age of 80. There is also a combination melanoma pancreatic cancer syndrome in which there is both melanoma and pancreatic cancer (17-20% around the age of 50 years).

Melanoma Melanoom


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