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Skin Cancer Causes & Risks


In genetically susceptible people, ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. But artificial radiation from sun lamps and tanning booths can also cause skin cancer.

Actinic keratosis is a precancerous lesion. It is caused by accumulated exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. If left untreated, it may progress to squamous cell carcinoma (which occurs approximately 10% of the time).

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Risk factors include:

  • Fair skin that freckles easily
  • Red or blonde hair
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Age: 50 or older
  • Sex: male
  • Race: White people who live in places where the sun's rays are strong year-round
  • Excessive sun exposure without protective clothing or sunscreen
  • Exposure to arsenic, industrial tar, coal, paraffin, and certain types of oil (for squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Radiation treatment
  • Light treatments for psoriasis , especially PUVA
  • Chronic, nonhealing wounds (for squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Certain genetic diseases such as basal cell nevus syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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