Skin Cancer Home > Causes of Melanoma

At this time, no one can explain the specific melanoma causes. Research has shown that excessive sun exposure that leads to bad, blistering sunburns is an important and avoidable risk factor. Other risk factors include a personal or family history of the disease and a weakened immune system. While they may not be direct causes of the disease, these factors can increase a person's chances of developing it.

What Causes Melanoma?

Doctors cannot explain why one person will develop melanoma and another person will not. However, we do know that melanoma is not contagious and that you cannot "catch" it from another person.
This article discusses possible causes of melanoma. If you would like to learn about possible causes for nonmelanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), you can go to the eMedTV article, Causes of Skin Cancer.

Know the Risk Factors

Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop melanoma. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Risk factors for melanoma include:
  • Unusual moles (dysplastic nevi)
  • Several moles (more than 50)
  • Exposure to natural sunlight
  • Exposure to artificial ultraviolet light (for example, a tanning booth)
  • Family or personal history of melanoma
  • Severe sunburns
  • Being Caucasian and older than 20 years of age
  • Red or blond hair
  • Weakened immune system
  • White or light-colored skin and freckles
  • Blue eyes
  • Personal history of skin cancer
  • Family history of dysplastic nevi or melanoma.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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