Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer in the whole world and its incidence has increased in all ages of population in recent decades. In Transylvania, Romania the incidence for the disease has increased during the last two years to 24 per 100,000. Therefore, it is necessary to develop more effective public health and earlier diagnosis programs that can reduce the morbidity and mortality of malignant melanoma. A retrospective epidemiologic study was conducted between 2008 -2010 at 250 persons (ages 18-70 ) with malignant melanoma to identify the most important environmental risk factors for the illness. Subjects were interviewed face-to-face in their homes. The roles of constitutional factors and benign nevi in causation of malignant melanoma were also examined. Malignant melanoma was most common in people over 40 and in those younger than 45, women had higher incidence rates than men. High, intermittent exposure to solar UV was a significant risk factor for the development of malignant melanoma. Tanning beds, represented a risk that increased cancer incidence by 75 percent, no matter what age, genetic makeup or gender. People at 35 or younger who used the beds regularly had a risk eight-fold higher than people who had never used tanning beds. Occupational exposure to radiation and some chemicals (vinyl chloride, biphenyls, and petrochemicals) was associated with increased risk for the disease. People who worked or spent lots of leisure time outside were at increased risk too. Also individuals who lived at higher elevations (mountainous regional parts) were also at greater risk because the atmosphere is thinner and does not filter UV rays so well. A role for heredity in determining melanoma risk is suggested by familial concurrence of the disease. Epidemiological data strongly implicates sunlight as the principal environmental cause of malignant melanoma. Exposure to high levels of sunlight and sunburn doubles the risk of developing the disease. Wearing protective clothing can block out UV rays as well as the adaptation of certain lifestyle changes.

Key Words: Malignant Melanoma / Risk factors


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  • Received: 16 May 2012
  • Accepted: 16 May 2012
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