© 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Twenty years ago, the first familial melanoma susceptibility gene, CDKN2A, was identified. Two years later, another high-penetrance gene, CDK4, was found to be responsible for melanoma development in some families. Progress in identifying new familial melanoma genes was subsequently slow; however, with the advent of next-generation sequencing, a small number of new high-penetrance genes have recently been uncovered. This approach has identified the lineage-specific oncogene MITF as a susceptibility gene both in melanoma families and in the general population, as well as the discovery of telomere maintenance as a key pathway underlying melanoma predisposition. Given these rapid recent advances, this approach seems likely to continue to pay dividends. Here, we review the currently known familial melanoma genes, providing evidence that most additionally confer risk to other cancers, indicating that they are likely general tumour suppressor genes or oncogenes, which has significant implications for surveillance and screening.