Common risk factors for skin cancer

There are certain risk factors for skin cancer that indicate whether you are at high risk or low risk.

Sunburn, tanning and overall overexposure to ultraviolet rays often lead to the development of skin cancer.

This development of skin cancer could come soon after the overexposure to UV rays or later on in life.

Just having some of the skin cancer risks does not mean that you will get skin cancer.

You have more control than you think to prevent it or lessen it.

What are your risk factors for skin cancer?

Factors that you can control

• Soaking up the sun – From this point on, you can control how much time you spend laying out in the sun for long periods of time. If your work is outdoors, you can control whether you wear sun protective clothing or use a good sunscreen. From this point on, you can avoid overexposure to the sun.

• High altitude and sunny climates – UV rays are strongest at high elevations and there’s much more sun exposure to those who live in a sunny climate. If you are vacationing in such a geographical location, you should definitely avoid sun burning, unlimited tanning and enjoy other features of such a beautiful spot. Your skin cancer risk can be lessened by the type of clothing you wear and the use of sunscreen.

• Family history of skin cancer – If anyone in your family history has had skin cancer, you may be at a higher risk. You could be the one person out of your family to change this history by strengthening your immune system/health and avoiding whatever you can control to lessen your chances of skin cancer. Your family and your future family starts with you!

• Personal history of skin cancer – If you’ve had it once, you are at risk of getting it again, even if you’ve had it successfully removed. It could recur in the same spot within two to three years. You can make a huge difference by improving your health …your immune system …your lifestyle. That’s been my experience since 1990!

• Weak immune system – This means your body’s natural defense system is low. This in one area where you can take control of your health before you have skin cancer or any cancer/disease. Learn about a healthy lifestyle and pursue it (as I did). You can definitely lower this skin cancer risk.

• Environmental hazards – Continued exposure to certain chemicals, pesticides, herbicides may increase your risk. If this has to do with your job or the area where you live, you should consider moving to a cleaner, healthier environment.

Risk factors for skin cancer you are not able to control

• Your skin complexion – The less pigmentation (melanin) you have in your skin results in the less protection from UV rays. Overexposure to these rays can result in skin damage, sunburn, leading to skin cancer. You may not be able to change the natural complexion of your skin but you can keep your risk low by using sense in the sun.

• History of sun burns – Any sunburn damages your skin and can lead to skin cancer/melanoma sooner or later in your life. Skin cancer in your 40’s, 50’s and 60+ could be from sunburning during your youth. You may be able to avoid or lessen the severity and recurrence by choosing a healthy lifestyle and using sense in the sun.

• Skin lesions – Scaly, rough spots that range from light pink to brown. These lesions are usually on areas that have been exposed to the most sun, such as the arms, hands and face of light complexion people. This is sun damage and can lead to skin cancer. Learn to identify skin cancer

• Moles – New moles and moles that change in shape, color, diameter or elevation could be a warning sign. This should be addressed immediately by your dermatologist. This could be melanoma.

• Freckles – A child could be born with some freckles or …within weeks start to develop some. As they age …and with some sun exposure, they may develop more. Any new ones and changes in old or new ones should be considered a skin cancer warning sign and could even result in melanoma. See your dermatologist

• Fragile skin tissue – Any skin that has been burned, injured, treated for other skin conditions or heavily radiated can sun damage easily is at more risk for skin cancer.

• Your age – Skin cancer risks increase with age depending on the amount of past UV exposure and other skin cancer risks. Most develop slowly and may not manifest themselves until middle age. Basal cell and squamous cell are increasing faster among women under 40. You can’t change your age, but you can improve past habits concerning your health and exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

When considering your risk factors for skin cancer, look more toward what you can do to lessen these factors.

Links related to Risk Factors for Skin Cancer:

Skin Cancer Causes
Family History
Are Tanning Beds Safe
Tanning Beds and Skin Cancer
Effects of Tanning Beds
Negative Effects of Tanning Beds
Causes of Melanoma
Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation

Go from Risk Factors for Skin Cancer to What Causes Skin Cancer


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Updated July 1, 2015


Hi! My name is Nick and I’m 56 yrs. old and this is part of my story. Let me tell you, I was like a lot of people out there and I had no idea that skin cancer was anything bad. I had Basal cell back in 2007, but that was no big deal and it was removed and that was the end of that. No one told me that it was a type of skin cancer (I looked it up on my computer). But still no big deal, it would not kill me.
But I did know the word "Melanoma"....." --by Nick

Read more of Nick's Story

Scared to Death!!! - by Shelly

Our Cancer Stories are so similar, mine and Gary's! - by Valerie  

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Bottom Line
The Weather Channel has done well posting this information and photos to help you spot skin cancer, including melanoma.
It can be hard to spot, even for a professional.
The bottom line is to get an expert's opinion about any suspicious mole or lesion on your skin. If necessary, get a second opinion  and/or request a biopsy. it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t put your very life at risk!