Skin Cancer Awareness Month: The Risk Factors You May Not Be Aware Of
What to Know About Skin Cancer Risks
Watch for These Hidden Skin Cancer Risks
When many people hear “skin cancer” they associate it with extreme sun exposure. While sun exposure is a significant cause of skin cancer, there are many other risk factors to take into consideration. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute are here to help guide you through these risk factors in addition to providing diagnosis and treatment for skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
The thought of skin cancer can be scary and overwhelming. If you know the risk factors involved, you can take proper precautions to protect yourself against skin cancer. The first risk factor is those with fair skin. Fair skin is more susceptible to getting sunburns and becoming damaged from UV radiation. UV radiation plays a role in many skin cancer diagnoses and the more damage to your skin, the higher the likelihood you have of being diagnosed with skin cancer. This leads us to the second risk factor, sunburns and excessive sun exposure. You do not need to hide from the sun, but do need to protect yourself against the sun’s harmful UV rays. It is best to avoid being in direct sunlight from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most damaging. Even when you are in the sun or outside on a cloudy day, sunscreen should be worn on any exposed body parts. The sun can still do damage when you cannot see it. The third risk factor is genetics. You are more likely to have skin cancer if those in your family have been diagnosed with it before. A fourth risk factor is those with a weakened immune system. Other risk factors to consider are if you have been exposed to radiation, already have a personal history of skin cancer, or if you live in high-altitude, sunny climates. Each of these risk factors can increase the likelihood of you being diagnosed with some kind of skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is diagnosed as either basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) or melanoma. If you notice a bleeding or scabbing sore it may be a sign of BCC. These sores will appear on body parts most often exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, arms, or chest. SCC also appears on body parts most often exposed to the sun but in a different form than BCC. If you have SCC you will notice either a firm red, nodule or a flat lesion. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, not just in areas often exposed to the sun. When developed, it could appear as a large brownish spot, a current mole that has changed in size or color, an unusual looking lesion, or dark lesions on your palms, fingertips, or toes.
If you have questions about being at a higher risk for skin cancer or want to learn more about BCC, SCC and melanoma, the dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can help. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas, complete this form. We will get in touch with you to help answer any skin cancer questions or concerns you may have.