Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
Having one or more risk factors for skin cancer doesn’t mean that you will develop skin cancer, but rather that you may increase your chances of getting skin cancer. Knowing that you have one or more risk factors will increase your awareness of skin cancer. You can then better educate yourself, make sure you perform your skin self-exam weekly, and establish a relationship with a dermatologist whom you trust.
Risk factors can be divided in two groups: (1) the inherited (genetic) risk factors, or your personal and family history and (2) the external risk factors, or your environmental exposure.
Listed below are the most common risk factors for the three most common types of skin cancer.
Personal or family history BCC SCC MM Fair skin with red hair and blue eyes ✖ ✖ ✖ Male over 50 years old ✖ ✖ ✖ Personal history of actinic keratosis, SCC, or BCC ✖ ✖ Personal history of MM ✖ Personal history of a rare genetic syndrome, such as albinism or xeroderma pigmentosum ✖ Personal history of a rare genetic syndrome, such as basal cell nevus syndrome ✖ Chronic skin conditions such as scarring from burns, chronic skin inflammation, and ulcers ✖ Family history of MM, such as a parent, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle ✖ Increased number of moles: having more than 50 moles increases the risk of MM ✖ Having atypical or dysplastic moles ✖ Environmental exposure BCC SCC MM Excessive long-term sun and ultraviolet light exposure: ✖ ✖ ✖ Medical condition that suppresses the immune system, such as AIDS, or medications that organ recipients take to suppress their immune system ✖ ✖ ✖ History of radiation therapy ✖ ✖ Arsenic and tar exposure ✖ Having a wart virus ✖ Cigarette smoking ✖
BCC = Basal cell carcinoma
SCC = Squamous cell carcinoma
MM = Malignant melanoma