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Melanoma Epidemiology and Prevention


The epidemiology of melanoma is complex, and individual risk depends on sun exposure, host factors, and genetic factors, and in their interactions as well. Sun exposure can be classified as intermittent, chronic, or cumulative (overall) exposure, and each appears to have a different effect on type of melanoma. Other environmental factors, such as chemical exposures-either through occupation, atmosphere, or food-may increase risk for melanoma, and this area warrants further study. Host factors that are well known to be important are the numbers and types of nevi and the skin phenotype. Genetic factors are classified as high-penetrant genes, moderate-risk genes, or low-risk genetic polymorphisms. Subtypes of tumors, such as BRAF-mutated tumors, have different risk factors as well as different therapies. Prevention of melanoma has been attempted using various strategies in specific subpopulations, but to date optimal interventions to reduce incidence have not emerged.

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