Several risk factors have been associated with skin cancer. These risk factors don’t always cause cancer, but people who have them should pay special attention to their health and let their physician know if they develop any unusual symptoms.
Most cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are caused by sun exposure or, more specifically, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. That means the following risk factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing skin cancer:
- Having a history of sunburns
- Working outdoors (especially during the midday hours)
- Frequently participating in outdoor recreational activities
- Living in a city with bright sunlight year round
- Living in a high-altitude city
Tanning beds emit UV radiation like the sun, so artificial tanning is also considered one of the risk factors for developing skin cancer. Additionally, people with fair complexions, blond or red hair, blue eyes and/or freckles are more likely to burn rather than tan, increasing their risk for skin cancer. Certain genetic conditions and medical diagnoses are also considered to be risk factors. For instance, people with weakened immune systems (due to HIV/AIDS, leukemia or similar conditions), human papillomavirus (HPV), pre-cancerous lesions or previous cancer diagnoses are more likely to develop skin cancer. People who have actinic keratosis or scars or burns on their skin may also have a higher risk of developing the condition.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we understand that every patient who walks through our doors has a unique risk profile. We can help you determine your personal skin cancer risk, and we also offer free skin cancer screenings through our Mole Patrol® so that you can take a proactive role in monitoring your health for any unusual changes.
If you’d like to discuss skin cancer risk factors with one of our expert oncologists, no referral is necessary to make an appointment. Call 1-888-MOFFITT or request an appointment online.