Causes of Melanoma
Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
Experts believe that much of the worldwide increase in melanoma is related to an increase in the amount of time people spend in the sun. This disease is also more common in people who live in areas that get large amounts of UV radiation from the sun. In the United States, for example, melanoma is more common in Texas than in Minnesota, where the sun is not as strong. UV radiation from the sun causes premature aging of the skin and skin damage that can lead to melanoma.
Artificial sources of UV radiation, such as sunlamps and tanning booths, can also cause skin damage and increase the risk of melanoma. Doctors encourage people to limit their exposure to natural UV radiation and to avoid these and other artificial sources.
It is important to remember that not everyone who has risk factors for melanoma will get the disease. In fact, most people do not. Also, about half the people who develop melanoma do not have any known risk factor for the condition.
At this time, no one can explain the specific causes of melanoma. Research has shown that sun exposure, especially excessive exposure that leads to bad, blistering sunburns, is an important and avoidable risk factor. Scientists are continuing their studies to find other possible causes.
If you think you may be at risk for some of the causes of skin cancer, you should discuss this concern with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways to reduce your risk and can plan a schedule for checkups.