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Genetics in melanoma


Melanoma is a type of malignant skin tumor whose origin is triggered by an uncontrolled proliferation of melanocytes, skin cells responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for giving color to our skin, eyes and hair, whose main function is to protect us from the effects of ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun’s rays.

 Is melanoma hereditary?

There are different types of melanoma, depending on its origin, we can establish a classification between sporadic melanoma and familial melanoma. Familial melanoma is the one that presents a genetic component and, therefore, it is the type of melanoma susceptible to be inherited. According to data obtained from studies carried out by the American Cancer Society, around 10% of people suffering from melanoma have a family history. This is the reason why the study of the genetics of melanoma is particularly relevant.

Different types of mutations are described in the etiopathogenesis of melanoma, including mutations that keep oncogenes activated or those that activate tumor suppressor genes. These mutations, in turn, cause changes that result in the loss of cell cycle control and uncontrolled cell growth, characteristic of cancer.

genetica melanoma

Is it possible to know if I have a genetic predisposition to hereditary melanoma, and is it possible to prevent melanoma?

First of all, it should be noted that melanoma is a multifactorial pathology, i.e. it is a pathology in which both genetic and environmental factors are involved, which in turn influence the existing genetic predisposition.

Although it does not prevent its occurrence, to detect melanoma early, a piece of advice that is always recommended is to monitor moles. There is a relationship between genetics and a person with freckles that is common to melanoma. People with moles are often more sensitive to solar radiation, making exposure to daylight an important environmental risk factor for this condition.

It is important to bear in mind that what is susceptible to being inherited is not the melanoma itself, but the susceptibility or predisposition to develop it. Therefore, nowadays and thanks to advances in genetics and the genetic test developed by tellmeGen, we can know our individual risk or susceptibility to melanoma and, thanks to this valuable information, we can implement specific measures with the aim of preventing and/or avoiding the development of melanoma.

Carlos Manuel Cuesta

Graduate in Biology. PhD in Biotechnology

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