What Factors Put You At Risk For Skin Cancer?
Technically, anyone can develop skin cancer. However, certain people are more at risk and therefore need to pay closer attention to their behavior and the condition of their skin than others. What factors put you at risk? Take a look.
Sun exposure, in general, puts you at risk for skin cancer since the UV rays in sunshine cause cellular damage that can turn cancerous. However, if you spend time in the sun to the point of being sunburned, you are at an even higher risk than someone who just spends a little time in the sun. The sunburn is indicative of damage — and that damage could lead to cancerous changes.
People with fair skin are more likely to sunburn, and even if they do not burn, their skin is less protected from the cancer-causing damage of UV rays. If you're pale skin, take steps to protect yourself such as wearing plenty of sunscreen and covering more of your skin when you go outside.
Not all moles are cancerous. Some are benign, which means they are not cancerous. However, moles are more likely to turn cancerous than normal skin, and people with moles are more likely to develop skin cancer than people who do not have moles. Keep a close eye on your moles, and report any changes in moles or new moles to your dermatologist.
Weak Immune System
If your immune system is not up to par, it will not be as capable of resisting the cancerous changes that can happen in your skin cells. If you have a condition that lowers your immunity, such as HIV/AIDS, or if you take drugs to lower your immunity, perhaps after an organ transplant, then you need to be especially wary of skin cancer.
Radiation can be helpful — it is used in x-rays to diagnose ailments, and it can even be a treatment for some cancers. But skin cancer can be a side effect of radiation exposure. You should primarily be concerned if you are exposed to radiation in the workplace, or if you've received radiation treatment for another health condition in the past.
Keep in mind that any one of these risk factors does not necessarily mean you'll develop cancer. You're simply more likely to get skin cancer if these risk factors ring true. Talk to your doctor to learn more about skin cancer prevention and treatment.