Melanoma is less common than non-melanoma skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but it is more serious. The factors that increase a person's chance of getting melanoma are
- unusual moles (normally benign clusters of melanocytes)
- large quantity of ordinary moles (more than 50)
- white or light-colored (fair) skin, especially with freckles.
Other factors that increase a person's chance of getting melanoma are
- blond or red hair
- blue or green eyes
- being older than 20 years of age
- severe, blistering sunburns earlier in life.
Someone who has one or more of these risk factors has a greater chance of getting skin cancer than someone who does not have these risk factors. However, having these risk factors does not guarantee a person will get cancer. Many genetic and environmental factors play a role in causing cancer.