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All You Need to Know about Skin Cancer Risk Factors
- According to the American Cancer Society, 60,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer every year
- Since skin cancer is often easy to prevent, promoting skin cancer awareness is extremely important in the fight against it and could save thousands of lives each year. Knowing how to prevent skin cancer is the key to turning the tables on this battle
- Youths are the most likely to ignore skin cancer warning signs, leaving this group the most likely to fall victim to it in the future
- Skin cancer risk factors, such as the length and amount of exposure to UV light, a family history of skin cancer and understanding your skin’s condition, are among some of the most important items to consider when dealing with its prevention
Cancer is a word that no one wants to think about, at least in relation to their own health or to their loved ones’ health. However, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 1 million people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer every year and another 60,000 patients are diagnosed with melanoma. This skin cancer data clearly indicates that people need to be more aware of the risk factors that might be increasing their chances of developing this disease. Below are the top three skin cancer risk factors.
1. Excessive Exposure to Ultraviolet Light
The most significant skin cancer risk factor that can be controlled through behavior is exposure to sunlight and artificial UV sources. Most people are aware that not using sun protection, getting sunburns, and engaging in artificial tanning are increasing their likelihood of developing skin cancer. However, most of the population continues to engage in these behaviors regularly. According to research conducted by the CDC, young people are the most inclined to ignore warnings about excessive sun exposure. Less than one-fourth of study participants stay in the shade or cover their skin sufficiently when in the sun. Less than one-third of people between 11 and 18 years of age wear sunglasses or apply sunscreen regularly. Most only use sunscreen at the beach. Even then, a stunning 40% do not use any type of protection from the sun. Nearly half of children under the age of 12 had at least one sunburn in the year before the study.
While this early exposure may not lead immediately to skin cancer, exposure to ultraviolet light and the damage it causes is cumulative. That means their risks are going to increase as they age. According to skin cancer statistics, the majority of cases are not diagnosed until after the age of 50 but most of the damage causing the cancer to develop occurred decades earlier.
2. Family History
Another important risk factor is your family history. About 10% of all melanoma patients have had other family members develop the same type of cancer. For this reason, doctors warn that if you’ve had two close family members (parents, siblings, etc.) who have had melanoma, you are at a greater risk of developing this type of cancer as well. Family history also plays a role in the other two forms of cancer, as well.
Unfortunately, you can’t do much to prevent this risk factor. However, if you do have a family history of the disease, work harder to minimize your other risk factors and be more vigilant about looking for signs of potential problems.
3. Skin Condition
Many of the other risk factors for skin cancer deal with you’re the condition of your skin, such as your complexion or the number of moles you have. If you have a light complexion and/or freckle easily, you are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer. Having more than 50 moles on your body also increases your risk of developing melanoma so you need to watch for any signs of the moles changing shape or color which could be a sign of cancer.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
One Response to “All You Need to Know about Skin Cancer Risk Factors”
If your moles start changing shape, that's a sign of cancer, right? I think mine has changed a little since I last looked at it, but I'm not sure this change is significant enough to worry about. Or should I go to the doctor straight away?January 26th, 2011 at 9:43 am