What are the Risk Factors of Skin Cancer

ID-100114887Skin cancer is fairly common among Whites living in bright sunshine regions such as Australia and New Zealand. There are certain factors (risk factors) that increase the risk of skin cancers. They are

  • Fair skin: individuals with fair skin (Whites/Caucasians) are at greater risk of skin cancer, although skin cancers can affect anyone, including blacks. Whites are more prone to develop skin cancer than blacks and dark skin individuals. Fair skin people have less pigment in skin (melanin), hence skin provide lesser protection against ultra violet (UV) rays from sunlight. Blacks and dark skin individuals have high melanin content in skin and provide good protection against UV ray, hence less risk of skin cancer. Blonde-haired people who sunburn easily are at greater risk.
  • Exposure to bright sunshine: Excess exposure to bright sunlight for long duration increase risk of skin cancer, especially if not protected by sunscreen or proper clothing. ┬áTanning under sun or under tanning lamp increase risk of skin cancer.
  • Living in sunny area or high altitude area: People living in sunny climate have higher risk of skin cancer in compare to people living in colder climate areas. That is the reason skin cancer is common among Whites of Australia. Living in high altitude areas where sunlight is very strong can increase risk of skin cancer.
  • Presence of precancerous skin lesions: precancerous skin lesions such as actinic keratoses (common in face) increase risk of skin cancer. Actinic keratoses are typically rough, scaly patches, which are brown to dark pink in color.
  • History of skin cancer: individuals with history of previous skin cancer are at greater risk of second skin cancer.
  • Family history of skin cancer: if any member of your family (parents/siblings) has skin cancer history, you are at higher risk.
  • History of sunburn: if you have history of serious blistering sunburns, you are at greater risk of skin cancer in later life.
  • History of radiation exposure: exposure to radiation for treatment of certain skin condition such as eczema, skin cancer, acne etc. is at higher risk of developing skin cancer in later life.
  • Presence of moles: individuals with large number of moles or abnormal type of moles such as dysplastic nevi have greater risk of skin cancer. A benign mole may become cancerous when there are certain changes in mole such as change of color, irregular border and sudden increase in size. If you notice, any abnormalities in mole consult your dermatologist.
  • Weak immune system: individuals with weakened immune system (HIV/AIDS, leukemia, taking immunosuppressant drugs) have higher risk of skin cancer.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals: excess exposure to certain chemical substances such as arsenic (may be in drinking water) increase risk of skin cancer.

Image courtesy of [marin] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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