The Causes of Skin Cancer

Sunlight is the underlying cause for most skin cancers:

  • Chronic sun exposure is linked to nonmelanomas
  • Intermittent, intense exposure is linked to melanoma

For example, people who are in the sun:

  • Regularly are at greater risk for developing nonmelanoma skin cancer
  • Occasionally but get sunburned have a higher risk of developing melanoma

What About Tanning Beds?

Studies show there’s a link between developing melanoma and using a tanning bed on a regular basis. There’s been an increase in the number of young women developing melanoma, particularly on their trunk, who have a history of using tanning beds.

Find out more about UV exposure in tanning beds and skin cancer in minors

Find out more about tanning beds increasing your risk of melanoma

What About Genetics?

Some cases of skin cancer are inherited or have a genetic basis. If skin cancer is inherited, it’s usually seen in families with a number of members diagnosed with skin cancer.

If you have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) with skin cancer, your risk is greater than the regular population for developing skin cancer. If you have a history of skin cancer, you have an increased risk of developing skin cancer again.

If you are concerned that you or a member of your family may have a hereditary condition that may affect your chances of developing melanoma, a more dangerous form of skin cancer, ask your physician for a referral to the Scott & White Cancer Genetics Clinic for genetic counseling and possible genetic testing to determine whether you have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

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