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Skin Cancer - Step 1: Find Out About Skin Cancer Risk

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To understand the risk factors for skin cancer, it is important to know something about the different types of skin cancer. The most common forms of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These forms are often referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancers to differentiate them from a third type of skin cancer called melanoma. Melanoma is less common than nonmelanoma skin cancers, but more deadly and more likely to spread through the body.

What are the known risk factors for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma? Anyone who is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun is at risk for these two nonmelanoma skin cancers. Factors that may increase your risk are:

Cumulative exposure
Where you live Complexion

What are the known risk factors for melanoma? No one knows the exact causes of melanoma or who will develop it. Research has shown that people with the following risk factors are more likely than others to develop it. But not everyone who has these or other risk factors for melanoma gets the disease. In fact, most do not. For example, about half the people who develop melanoma do not have dysplastic nevi and they may not have any other known risk factor for the disease.

Dysplastic nevi (abnormal moles)
Many (more than 50) ordinary moles
Fair skin
Personal history of any type of skin cancer
Family history of melanoma
Weakened immune system
Severe, blistering sunburns
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation

Find out more:
Understanding the skin  Skin cancer statistics Things to know about skin cancer

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