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Melanoma (cont.)

Melanoma Risk Factors

  • Light skin
  • Living closer to the equator
  • Large number of nevi (moles)
  • Personal or family history of melanoma
  • "Dysplastic nevus syndrome," characterized by an inherited predisposition to develop numerous, large irregularly pigmented moles
  • Presence of a very large congenital (present at birth) mole (bathing trunk congenital nevus)

When to Seek Medical Care

There are many kinds of benign pigmented lesions normally found on the skin. Some are present from the time of birth (congenital) while others develop after birth. Commonly, these are referred to as "moles." In younger patients, most pigmented lesions are melanocytic nevi composed of benign melanocytes growing in nests or clumps within the skin. The average number of these lesions is 30-35 per person in light-skinned races. It is not uncommon for such lesions to continue to arise until 35 years of age. Older individuals predominantly have non-melanocytic pigmented lesions called seborrheic keratoses, which arise in the most superficial layer of the skin and tend to continue to appear during adult life. Distinguishing these benign lesions from more ominous ones may be difficult. Any asymmetrical (color or border), changing lesion, especially if it is bleeding or irritated or symptomatic, should be examined by a physician. Regular self-examination or examination by a significant other can be a valuable asset in early detection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/2/2015

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