Study shows family history raises skin cancer risk more than sun exposure

by IANS |

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) More than exposure to sun, family history or inherited genes play a larger role in the risk of developing melanoma -- skin cancer -- than previously thought, finds a study on Wednesday.

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic in the US noted that genetic screens to assess risk factors for patients with a family history of melanoma are rare as previous, limited studies showed that only 2-2.5 per cent of all cases are genetic.

Up to 15 per cent (1 in 7) of patients who received melanoma diagnoses between 2017 and 2020 showed mutations in cancer susceptibility genes, revealed their results, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Joshua Arbesman from the Clinic said that genetic testing can help physicians to "proactively identify, screen and even treat the families" with inherited genes.

He urged physicians and insurance companies "to expand their criteria when it comes to offering genetic testing to individuals with family histories of melanoma".

It is "because inherited predisposition to it isn't nearly as rare as we think it is", he added.

The findings also support an increasingly popular opinion amongst cancer biologists: there are risk factors beyond sun exposure that can influence an individual's chances of developing melanoma.

"Not all of my patients had inherited mutations that made them more susceptible to the sun," Joshua said.

"There's clearly something more going on here and more research is needed," he said.

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