Familial Melanoma and Susceptibility Genes: A Review of the Most Common Clinical and Dermoscopic Phenotypic Aspect, Associated Malignancies and Practical Tips for Management

J Clin Med. 2021 Aug 23;10(16):3760. doi: 10.3390/jcm10163760.


A family history of melanoma greatly increases the risk of developing cutaneous melanoma, a highly aggressive skin cancer whose incidence has been steadily increasing worldwide. Familial melanomas account for about 10% of all malignant melanomas and display an inheritance pattern consistent with the presence of pathogenic germline mutations, among which those involving CDKN2A are the best characterized. In recent years, a growing number of genes, such as MC1R, MITF, CDK4, POT1, TERT, ACD, TERF2IP, and BAP1, have been implicated in familial melanoma. The fact that individuals harboring these germline mutations along with their close blood relatives have a higher risk of developing multiple primary melanomas as well as other internal organ malignancies, especially pancreatic cancer, makes cascade genetic testing and surveillance of these families of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, due to a polygenic inheritance mechanism involving multiple low-risk alleles, genetic modifiers, and environmental factors, it is still very difficult to predict the presence of these mutations. It is, however, known that germline mutation carriers can sometimes develop specific clinical traits, such as high atypical nevus counts and specific dermoscopic features, which could theoretically help clinicians predict the presence of these mutations in prone families. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the high- and intermediate-penetrance genes primarily linked to familial melanoma, highlighting their most frequently associated non-cutaneous malignancies and clinical/dermoscopic phenotypes.

Keywords: BAP1; CDK4; CDKN2A; MC1R; MITF; POT1; dermoscopy; familial melanoma; genetic; multiple melanoma.

Publication types

  • Review