Risk Factors for Skin Cancer

A risk factor is anything that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like sun exposure, can be controlled. Others, like a person’s age or family history, cannot. 

Having a risk factor, or even many risk

factors, does not mean that you will get skin cancer. Many people with risk factors for skin cancer will never get it. And some people who do get it many have few or no known risk factors.

Still, it is important to know about the risk factors for skin cancer because there may be things you can do that could lower your risk of getting it. If you are at higher risk because of certain factors, there are also things you can do that might help find it early, when its likely to be easier to treat.

Your skin type is a major factor in your risk for all types of skin cancer. Although it is true that people with fair skin are more at risk for sunburn, sun damage and skin cancer, exposure to harmful UV radiation can raise your skin cancer risk even if you have a darker complexion and don’t burn.

There are 6 skin types, going from light to dark. Individuals with types 1 and 2 face the highest risk of developing skin cancer, while types 5 and 6 are at the lowest risk. That is because those with more pigmentation have more natural protection from the sun. Although more pigmentation equals more protection, people with darker skin can still get skin cancer. Everyone, regardless of skin type, should practice sun safety daily and visit their dermatologist annually for a skin check.

Harmful UV radiation from the sun and other sources can cause dangerous, lasting damage to your skin, no matter your skin type. This means that people of any ethnic background, even those with dark skin tones that never burn, can still get skin cancer. Did you know that Bob Marley died of melanoma that formed on his big toe? Skin Cancer doesn’t discriminate so we all need to do our best to protect ourselves every day from harmful UV.

Understanding your skin type is a very important step in protecting against skin cancer, but remember that skin type is not your only risk factor. Let’s dig into some of the other risk factors for skin cancer.

Other Risk Factors for Skin Cancer

UV Exposure
Inherited Conditions
HPV Infection
Mole Count
Weakened Immune System
Psoriasis Treatment

Regardless of whether you have any of theses risk factors, reducing your exposure to harmful UV radiation can help keep your skin healthy and lower your chances of getting skin cancer in the future. To learn about ways to protect yourself from harmful UV, CLICK HERE.