Skin cancer, the most common type of cancer, is a medical condition characterized by the rapid multiplication of epidermal cells. The abnormal growth of cells is usually caused by DNA mutation. Generally, DNA mutation can occur in anyone but is more common where certain risk factors are present. It is important to note that while some conditions can increase your risk of developing skin cancer, they do not directly cause it. Many people may also never get skin cancer despite having these risk factors. That said, knowing what they do allows you to gauge your risk, adjust your lifestyle, and discuss prevention and treatment with a Cypress skin cancer specialist. Here is a look at five.
Sun Exposure and Indoor Tanning
Medical experts agree that exposure to the sun and other forms of UV radiation is the single more dangerous skin cancer risk factor. In fact, people who live in tropical areas that receive a lot of bright sunlight throughout the year or in high altitudes are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. This is also true of people who spend a lot of time in the sun, especially around midday, and people who use tanners. According to oncologists, indoor tanning is never safe, even in limited amounts. Using sun lamps, tanning beds, and tanning parlors increases your risk of all skin cancer types.
Medical research shows that people with freckles, blue eyes, red or blond hair, and lighter-colored skin are more likely to develop Merkel cell cancer, BCC, SCC, and melanoma. If your skin tends to burn rather than turn, you may also be at a heightened risk. That said, people with all skin colors can also develop cancer, especially when they regularly expose their skin to UV radiation.
Suppressed or Weakened Immune System
Several factors can cause you to have a weakened immune system. These include organ transplants, stem cell or bone marrow transplants, and medical conditions like AIDS, HIV, and leukemia. When your immune system is weak, your risk of developing skin cancer may go up. Your risk may also be higher if you take immunosuppressive medication or have previously injured or burned skin.
Many skin cancers are more prevalent in old age. Squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinoma are more common in patients older than 50, while Merkel cell mostly affects people older than 70. In recent years and thanks to increased screening efforts, doctors have also diagnosed more skin cancers in patients 65 or older. That said, younger people can still develop skin cancer.
Certain Medical Conditions
As mentioned, medical conditions like leukemia, HIV, and AIDS can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. This is because they compromise your immune system. Other rare genetic conditions can also raise your risk, albeit through a different mechanism. They include epidermolysis bullosa simplex syndromes, Rombo, Bazex-Dupré-Christol, and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome. Moreover, you are more likely to develop skin cancer if you have had any skin cancer. Between 35 to 50 percent of 1 BCC diagnoses develop a new form of skin cancer within 5 years, necessitating follow-up care.
Discuss Your Skin Cancer Risk with a Dermatologist
Skin cancer risk factors can make you more likely to develop the condition. And while there is currently no known way to prevent skin cancer, understanding your risk level can help you lower it. For instance, you can reduce your exposure to sun and UV radiation, eliminating one risk factor. The best way to do this is to discuss your risk with a certified dermatologist. In addition to assessing how likely you are to develop skin cancer, they can diagnose, treat, and help you prevent common skin cancers. Call today to set up your consultation and learn more.