Most patients have had years of sun exposure and a history of sunburn. Patient’s with a family history of melanoma are at greater risk. Patient’s with atypical nevi are also at greater risk. The history of change in an existing mole or the appearance of a new darkly pigmented lesion is critically important. The history of change is in most cases enough evidence to warrant an excisional skin biopsy.
Other risk factors include exposure to light in a tanning salon, fair skin and a tendency for freckling.
The incidence of melanoma is increasing. Melanoma occurs most often in middle-age but tumors are reported in children.