Melanoma gene fault discovered by Aussie scientists

This could lead to improved prevention, detection and treatment, says Professor Nick Hayward of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland.

Professor Hayward is part of an international team that found people with the POT1 gene mutation are at extremely high risk of developing melanoma.

The finding adds to growing knowledge about the genetic links to melanoma and could help identify which people should have regular screening.

"Carriers could benefit from more rigorous six-monthly skin examinations," said Professor Hayward, co-author of a study published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Carriers should also be extra careful about their sun exposure to minimise their likelihood of developing melanoma.

Around 11,000 Australians a year are diagnosed with melanoma and around one in 50 has a strong family history.

It is believed the POT1 gene mutation causes a minority of these cases.

At present