Incidences of melanoma are rising in many European countries and all over the world. Early discovery of the disease means that the chance of survival is high, but when detected late, the prognosis is fatal.
There are no centrally organised population-based screening programmes for melanoma in Europe. The majority of melanomas are initially self-discovered. For those at high melanoma risk (due to significant UV exposure, family history, etc.) the recommendation is routine full-body visual examination of the skin.
Studies have indicated that among individuals with low conventional risk factors, around 9–21% belong to a high polygenic risk group. The heritability of melanoma is among the highest among cancers, with many variants of small effects contributing to the disease. An estimated 8–12% of patients with melanoma have a family history of the disease. Therefore, genomic testing can identify people who are susceptible to melanoma despite their lack of a traditional phenotypic risk profile.
We are currently developing a design for population-wide melanoma screening that combines all available risk factors to improve early melanoma detection.