Published: Sept. 2, 2011
Updated: Sept. 2, 2011
Unfortunately, we do not know many of the factors that cause skin cancer. However, skin cancer does occur more frequently in people with fair complexions (blonde hair, blue eyes), in individuals of Celtic descent, and in those who have had extensive exposure to the sun.
Accumulated exposure to the damaging ultraviolet radiation of the sun over many years may change normal cells of the skin into cancer cells. This is why areas of the body exposed constantly to the sun (face, hands) tend to be more prone to skin cancer than sun-protected areas.
Nonetheless, sun exposure is not the entire answer to the origin of skin cancer. Dark-skinned individuals who hide from the sun can also occasionally develop skin cancer.
Other factors such as genetic predispositions and exposures to environmental agents may also play significant roles. Keep in mind that having a risk factor does not necessarily mean you will get cancer, and not having any of them does not guarantee you won’t.
Additional skin cancer risk factors include:
The only factor that you can control is your continuing exposure to the sun. Proper use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater is the most important preventive measure. Sun protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses can also provide appropriate blocking of damaging rays from the sun.
You do not have to change your lifestyle dramatically -- only use caution and sun protection. You should also plan to commit to regular follow-up examinations of your skin by your dermatologist so that sun-damaged skin can be closely examined in order to detect early signs of future skin cancers.
Learn more about skin cancer: