How do melanoma types relate to sun damage?
Chronic sun exposure
In New Zealand, melanoma often affects people who are sun damaged. This type of melanoma:
- Tends to affect older individuals.
- Is more common in men.
- Often occurs on the head and neck.
- May result in several melanomas.
- Usually occurs in people who have been exposed to the sun over a long period of time. These are often people that work outdoors, such as builders, farmers and gardeners.
- Is often a clinical type called lentigo maligna melanoma.
- Tends to be slow-growing and thin at diagnosis.
Intermediate sun exposure
Melanoma can also affect people who actually don't spend a lot of time outdoors. This type of melanoma is associated with earlier sunburn, and:
- Tends to affect younger adults.
- Is more common in women.
- Often affects fair-skinned people who have lots of moles.
- Most often occurs on the trunk of males and on the legs of females.
- Usually occurs in people who have been exposed to lots of sun occasionally, for example during sunny holidays spent sun-bathing or sailing.
- Is often a clinical type called superficial spreading melanoma.
- Can affect several members of one family, who have a genetic tendency to large and odd-looking (atypical) moles as well as melanoma.