A family history of melanoma
In times gone by we used to see our family doctor, we were on first name terms, and we all grew up in the same area, went to the same schools, and attended the same church. A visit to the doctor used to be a familiar affair.
Today it is not quite the same anymore. In cities we move around all the time. We visit doctors when they are available, we go where bulk billing is offered, rather than seeking out one doctor for a long time… We don’t build up a relationship with our doctors anymore. They don’t know us, and we don’t know them.
This is normally not a problem, but what if it was? What if our doctors are missing things because they lack the background information required to make a proper diagnosis?
Genetics makes us what we are… We are a mix of our parents’ genes, a dash of nan and grandpa, and a little bit of our own unique self. The thing with cancers, are that only they decide when they are going to flare up. Just because mum had melanoma, does not mean that you will get it… Your chances are good, but it’s not a given. And vice versa, you might get it, even though it is rare in your family.
By knowing your family history, you can take extra steps to keep the cancer at bay. The statistics are staggering; one in ten people diagnosed with melanoma has a family member with a history of melanoma. If a close family member already had melanoma, then the odds are even more stacked against you. And, it is important to know that there is a strong link between melanoma and other cancers.
If melanoma runs in the family, what can I do about it?
The good thing about knowledge, is that we can act on it. If you know there is melanoma that runs in the family, then you can be vigilant.
It is important to self-check for any skin abnormalities, go for regular check-ups, and be aware of the hereditary risk factors. Protect yourself from UV rays, wear sunscreen, wear a hat, and avoid tanning salons.
Children in melanoma-prone families should start skin check through puberty, and into adolescence. Knowing you are from a melanoma-prone family could be a lifesaver, as early detection greatly increases the long-term survival rate.
If you are concerned about skin cancer or melanomas, or if you have a family history of melanomas in the family, then please do not hesitate to see your GP, or visit Skindoc for a full skin check.