The numbers surrounding the prevalence of skin cancer are large enough that it would lead one to (reasonably) assume that no one is safe from this potentially dangerous and life-threatening disease. There is some truth to that if you consider that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and it’s the most common form of cancer. That said, there are some factors that place you more at risk.
To help shed some light, the team here at Z-Roc Dermatology, under the direction of Drs. Khongruk Wongkittiroch and Matthew Zarraga, pulled together the following list so you can take the necessary steps to prevent skin cancer from developing.
Skin cancer at a glance
There are several types of skin cancer, but the three most common are:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Each of these cancers occurs on the heels of mutations in your skin cells. More pertinent to our discussion, most forms of skin cancer share the same risk factors.
Before we get into individual characteristics that increase your risks, we want to point out that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is the leading cause of skin cancer, but not the only one — certain skin cancers can develop in areas that don’t often see the light of day.
Still, reducing your exposure to the sun is one of the best steps for preventing skin cancer.
The most common risk factors for skin cancer
As you can see by the numbers, most anyone can develop skin cancer, but there are certain factors that may increase your risk, including:
- Fairer skin complexion
- Skin that burns easily
- Skin that easily develops hyperpigmentation (freckles, etc.)
- Environment — sunny, high-altitude areas
- The existence of moles
- Having green or blue eyes
- Having lighter-colored hair, especially blondes or redheads
- A family history of skin cancer
While there are many factors on this list that are outside of your ability to change, it’s worth understanding your risks so that you can take the steps necessary to protect yourself.
Whether you carry higher risk for skin cancer or not, one of the best preventive techniques for avoiding the disease is to protect yourself from the sun. This means covering up, wearing sunscreen, and avoiding peak sun hours.
We also urge you to come see us regularly so that we can perform routine skin cancer screenings. During your visit, we can detect many skin cancers in their earliest, and most treatable, stages.
Should you develop skin cancer, we also offer advanced techniques for excising these dangerous cells, including Mohs micrographic surgery.
If you have more questions about your risks for skin cancer, we invite you to contact our office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to set up a consultation.