A person looks at a wall of portraits while a strand of DNA winding around them.

Genetic Testing and Melanoma

Medical science has had many improvements over the years and there is testing for things you never could in the past. Not only are certain tests informational, but some can save your life. But what about genetic testing for melanoma? If you have a family history of skin cancer or melanoma, should you get tested?

Genetic testing for melanoma and family history

Gene mutations increase the chance of skin cancer or melanoma. These gene mutations are sometimes inherited. This means they pass down through the family line in those cases. There are a few indicators that may showcase inherited genes that lead to melanoma. These include:

  1. A few family members on one side who have or had melanoma
  2. A member of the family with both pancreatic cancer and melanoma
  3. Someone in the family who has had more than one instance of melanoma
  4. You have two or more moles with an unusual appearance
  5. You have had a recurrence of melanoma, more than three times. Especially important for those who had their first before the age of 45

According to the American Cancer Society, "Some families with high rates of melanoma have mutations in genes such as CDKN2A (also known as p16)."

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing identifies changes in proteins, chromosomes, and genes. Testing genes allows the patient to help determine something important. These are their risk factors for certain diseases or conditions. These include cancers such as melanoma. It also helps rule out a suspected genetic condition.

Methods of genetic testing

There are various ways of genetic testing. These include molecular genetic tests, biochemical genetic tests, and chromosomal genetic tests.  To get tested, see a genetic counselor or a geneticist.

In some cases, insurance covers genetic testing for melanoma. This is if your doctor recommends it. Although the testing itself is voluntary.

Should you get genetic testing for melanoma?

The problem is that these are not always 100 percent accurate. Those who have the above risk factors already know they have a higher chance of getting melanoma. Some may get a positive test and worry, while a false sense of security can come from a negative. The fact is, the test cannot tell you whether you will get melanoma. What it does is tell you if you have a mutation on the gene called BAP1.

For those who want to know if they carry the gene, genetic testing will help them find out. For some, this is valuable information. You may or may not need to get tested. But if it makes you feel better, there is no harm in doing so. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor or dermatologist for their suggestions.

The important takeaway is to do what makes you happy. If genetic testing for melanoma gives you more security, why not? If it helps answer questions you have, go for it. Take care of yourself and do what makes you feel better.

Have you considered genetic testing for skin cancer or melanoma?

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