Does genetics play a role in how likely you are to get skin cancer?

KYW Staff
December 03, 2019 - 7:43 pm
Skin cancer.

Andrii Pohranychnyi/Getty Images

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KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Each year, more than 12,000 people in Australia are diagnosed with malignant melanoma, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer. 

Now, researchers based in Australia are studying the cases and others to see if there is a genetic link to skin cancer putting certain people at greater risk. 

The study supported the genetic link, but there was something else that they learned that was very interesting. 

The data showed that those who were born and grew up in Australia have a 50% increased risk of melanoma, while those migrating to Australia as adults who have the same genes are less likely to develop the deadly disease. 

The important point is that sun damage up to the age of 20 is particularly risky, especially if there is a genetic risk.