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Although most melanoma is sporadic, when multiple individuals in a family have this condition, there may be a genetic predisposition. Genetic testing is available for familial melanoma, although it is best to first perform this testing in an individual who has been diagnosed with melanoma. This approach would be informative for family members. The genetic testing involves analysis of the p16 gene. Mutations in p16 increase the risk for developing melanoma and also pancreatic cancer in some families. If genetic testing is not performed for p16 in a family or if a mutation is not able to be identified, based on a strong family history of melanoma, it is still recommended that family members schedule an annual visit with a dermatologist for a skin exam and follow high risk practices regarding sun protection.
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