Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, which means it's important to understand what risk factors increase the likelihood that it will develop on your body. Here's what you need to know.
It's important to note that anyone, regardless of skin color, is at risk for developing skin cancer. That being said, you are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer if your skin is fair. Skin without a lot of melanin (pigment) in it provides less protection against UV radiation from the sun. If you sunburn or freckle easily after short periods of time in the sun, you're in a high-risk group for developing skin cancer and should invest in regular skin cancer screenings.
Like fair skin, light-colored hair provides less protection from UV radiation. So if you have light-colored or red hair, you're at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. It's even more important to protect your scalp if you have lighter hair because it may not be the first place you think to look for skin cancer. But skin cancer doesn't discriminate when it comes to where it develops on your body. This is why, during a skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will check your scalp carefully for early signs of skin cancer.
Excessive exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, can put you at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. In many cases, UV damage is the number one contributing factor to the development of skin cancer. Not only that, but tanning beds have been directly linked to skin cancer in the past. Even if you weren't sunburned, exposure to UV radiation without proper skin protection can put you at risk for skin cancer development.
Sunburn is a key sign that your skin has been damaged by UV radiation. And having a history of frequent or severe sunburn means that you're at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. Even one sunburn that's severe enough to blister can put you in a higher-risk group for skin cancer. And severe sunburn that occurred when you were a child or a young adult can still have an effect on your risk of developing skin cancer as an adult.
If you've been diagnosed with skin cancer in the past, the likelihood that you'll develop it again is fairly high. Even effective treatment can't guarantee that your skin cancer won't recur later in life. That's why it's so important to invest in frequent skin cancer screenings after you've been diagnosed with skin cancer. Early detection can make all the difference in your treatment later on. A family history of skin cancer could also put you at a higher risk.
A skin cancer diagnosis is no joke. If you believe you possess one or more of the risk factors we discussed above and have questions or want to set up a skin cancer screening, contact SE Dermatology Specialists today.