Genetic risk factors have been confirmed for deadly Melanoma

Part of an art installation created by surrealist artist Andrew Baines in Adelaide. Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

Scientists have found five common genetic risks for melanoma and confirmed two others previously suspected to be factors.

The University of Leeds researchers uncovered further evidence that the protective buffers at the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres, are fundamental to the understanding of the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Dr Mark Iles from the university’s School of Medicine and St James’s University Hospitals says telomeres, which prevent damage to the ends of chromosomes and stop them from fusing together, play and important role in the development of melanoma.

“We now know of 20 common genetic risk factors and 12 of these are clearly related to either telomere length, pigmentation or the number of moles an individual has,” he says.

“These last two factors are particularly important, because they are long-established as indicators of risk for melanoma. This reinforces the message that anyone with pale skin and many moles should take extra care when in the sun.”

The researchers are now preparing for a larger study which is expected to find more markers of risk.

Each person’s chances of developing cancer are due to a complex interplay between genes, lifestyle and environment.

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