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.


The patient reported a recent darkening of a pigmented lesion that had been present for years. An excisional biopsy of the entire lesion showed it to be a Melanoma

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.