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Melanoma Skin Cancer

The number of melanoma cases worldwide is increasing faster than any other cancer (though nonmelanoma skin cancer still remains the most common type of skin cancer). Since 1973, the number of new melanoma cases in Canada has doubled. It is estimated that in 2017, 7200 women were diagnosed with melanoma.

Melanoma most often appears on the trunk (and back) and on the backs of the legs of fair-skinned men and women.

People with naturally darker skin have a lower risk of melanoma, but darker skin is no guarantee that melanoma won't develop. People with darker skin can develop melanomas on the palms of their hands, on the soles of their feet, and under their nails.

Am I at Risk?

Each of the following increases your risk for melanoma. The more of the following risk factors you have, the higher the risk.

  • lots of moles
  • blond or red hair
  • freckles
  • skin that burns easily and doesn't tan
  • a childhood spent in the tropics
  • a history of sunburns
  • an occupation that involves working outside – for example, at a swimming pool, golf course or construction site
  • exposure to environmental carcinogens, such as coal, tar and arsenic compounds in pesticides and radium
  • two or more members of your family have had melanoma
  • a history of previous melanomas


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Melanoma Skin Cancer

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital