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Family matters: Your inherited melanoma risk

Posted by National Skin Cancer Centres on Aug 25, 2021 12:58:47 PM

Did you know that skin cancer can run in the family? If you have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime, you have a 50 per cent greater chance of developing the disease yourself.

This means that if you or your parent, sibling or child has had melanoma, you are in a melanoma-prone family.

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Around 2,000 lives are lost every year to melanoma in Australia. This deadly form of skin cancer is predominantly caused by sun exposure, but it can also be hereditary.

If you or your loved ones have been diagnosed with melanoma, it's important that you and your relatives get regular skin checks, as the disease survival rate increases up to 99 per cent when detected and treated early.

With over 800,000 skin cancers treated every year in Australia, it is highly likely that most of us will be impacted by the disease at some stage in our lives.

Australians are 13 times more likely to develop skin cancer than the global average.

Take our quick quiz to find out if you are at risk of skin cancer.

We can sometimes notice spots on loved ones' back or shoulders that they cannot see for themselves. It's important to encourage our friends and family to get suspicious spots checked early to have the best chance of successful treatment.

What signs are we looking for?

Alert your loved ones if you notice anything on their skin that stands out: a mole you haven't seen before; a freckle that has changed since the last time you saw it; a spot that looks different from the rest or has irregular borders, multiple colours, or is asymmetrical. 

Take the opportunity to remind friends and family of the importance of sun-safe habits such as wearing a hat and sunglasses, covering exposed skin, and using SPF50+ sunscreen that is reapplied regularly throughout the day. 

Looking out for one another today might save your loved ones' lives in the near future.

Topics: skin cancer, Risks, melanoma