Studies conducted at the Harvard Medical School indicate that melanoma may be related to intermittent blistering sunburns, particularly if the sunburn occurs before the age of 20. In a case-controlled study at the Massachusetts General Hospital (Lew, 1983), a two-fold increased risk was seen in individuals having had one or more blistering sunburns in adolescence. Dr, Arthur Sober of Harvard Medical School and other experts believe that a serious burn may alter the genetic material of the pigment cells in the skin of a growing child, leading to the formation of unstable moles that have the potential to become malignant (Sober, 1987).

(Click on a risk factor for more information)

Fair Skin, Light Colored Eyes, Blonde, Red or Light Brown Hair

Freckles or Many Moles on the Body

Dysplastic Nevi (Abnormal Moles)

Childhood sun exposure, and a burn before the age of 18

Considerable Sun Exposure or Use of Tanning Beds / Booths

Personal history of melanoma or skin cancer

Family history of melanoma