Skin Cancer Awareness: Risk FactorsA risk factor is anything that makes your chance of getting cancer more likely. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, unprotected exposure to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer, and smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, kidneys, bladder, and several other types of cancer.
But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And many people who get the disease may not have had any known risk factors. Even if a person with basal or squamous cell skin cancer has a risk factor, it is often very hard to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer. It's important to know the risk factors so you can avoid them, if possible.
What Are The Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?Your skin type is one of the main factors in your risk for skin cancer. There are six skin phototypes, going from light to dark. Individuals with skin types I and II face the highest risk of developing skin cancer, while types V and VI are at the lowest risk. That is because those with a darker skin tone have more natural protection from the sun. People with darker skin can get skin cancer.
People with darker skin need to be careful about spending too much time in the sun and need have regular examinations by a doctor. Visit the Skin Cancer Foundation's Skin Types and At Risk Groups Guidelines page for more information.
What Are The Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer?
- Ultraviolet(UV) light / sunlight exposure
- Fair skin, freckling and light hair
- Family history of melanoma
- Gender (women get skin cancer more than men)
- Xeroderma pigmentosum
- Personal history of melanoma
- Immune suppression
What are the risk factors for basal and squamous cell skin cancer?
- Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
- Having light-colored skin
- Older age
- Male Gender
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Radiation exposure
- Previous skin cancer
- Long-term or severe skin inflammation or injury
- Psoriasis treatment
- Xeroderma pigmentosum(XP)
- Basal cell nevus syndrome(Gorlin syndrome)
- Reduced immunity
- Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
Source: American Cancer Society, Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention Topics web page and Melanoma webpage.