Anyone can get skin cancer, but there are some factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disease. These are called risk factors. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about some of the risk factors and causes of skin cancer?
Of course, Dr. Mayzik. Skin cancer occurs when damage to the DNA of skin cells leads to genetic mutations or defects. These mutations cause the skin cells to grow uncontrollably and form malignant tumors. The DNA damage that starts this process is most often the result of ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. For this reason, spending a lot of time in the sun or in tanning beds and having been sunburned are major risk factors for developing skin cancer. Too much UV radiation exposure is especially dangerous for children and adolescents, as it increases their risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
Other risk factors for skin cancer include:
- Having light-colored skin, hair, and eyes
- Having a large number of moles
- Having a family history of skin cancer, and
- Being over the age of 50