[4 min read] Family history of melanoma increases risk of melanoma, SCC and BCC

How does a family history of melanoma affect your patients’ risk of developing melanoma and keratinocyte cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma?

Previous studies have found familial tendencies for melanoma and keratinocyte cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. A new study looked at the risk of these cancers in individuals with a positive family history of melanoma.

The study – which was conducted in the United States and published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology – prospectively followed 216,115 participants for more than 20 years.

Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate the association between family history of melanoma and the risk of melanoma and keratinocyte cancers.

‘Family history’ was defined as having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with a previous melanoma diagnosis.

Compared with those without a family history of melanoma, individuals with a family history of melanoma had a 74 per cent increased risk of melanoma, a 22 per cent increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, and a 27 per cent increased risk of basal cell carcinoma.

Family history of melanoma increased the risk of development of truncal melanoma in both sexes, extremity melanoma in women, and extremity squamous cell carcinoma in women.

The study concluded that individuals with a family history of melanoma are at an increased risk of melanoma and keratinocyte cancers. This suggests that practitioners delivering skin cancer screenings and treatment in primary care should ask their patients about family history and educate their patients about familial risk factors.


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Read more recent research.

Source: Wei, Erin X. et al. (Aug 2019.) Having a first-degree relative with melanoma increases lifetime risk of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 81, Issue 2, 489 – 499.

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