Are You at Risk for Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in the US. Annually, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other types of cancer combined.

Should you be worried? Possibly. Anyone can get skin cancer, but certain people are more prone than others.

Board-certified dermatologist Juan-Carlos Caballero, MD warns that the following puts you at risk for skin cancer.

1.    Skin type

Though skin cancer is possible for all skin types, you’re most at risk if your natural skin color is lighter. You’ll notice you burn easily and develop freckles when exposed to the sun. Blondes and redheads and people with blue or green eyes usually have this pale skin tone that is more susceptible to skin cancer.

2.    Prior sunburns

Even one severe sunburn greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. If you repeatedly burn in the sun, you’re at greater risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer. Experience five or more sunburns in your life, and you have double the risk of developing melanoma. Skin damage from UV rays compounds over time.

3.    Frequent sun exposure

Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid burns, frequent sun exposure puts you at risk. If you play sports, run or hike outside, or spend time gardening, your risk is elevated. Jobs that keep you out in the sun, like construction or landscaping, also make it more likely you will develop skin cancer.

4.    There’s a family history

If someone in your family, especially a close relative like your parent or sibling, has contracted skin cancer, you’re at greater risk. That goes for you, too. If you’ve had skin cancer in the past, you’re more vulnerable to future instances.

5.    You tan indoors

Getting a tan from an indoor bed or sun lamp doesn’t save you from skin cancer. These indoor tanning modes expose you to high levels of UV radiation, which damages your skin’s inner layer – giving you a tan and potentially creating cancer.

6.    You’re older

The more you tan and burn, the greater the damage to your skin. As the years pass, this sun damage builds up and could result in enough cellular damage to result in skin cancer.

Protect yourself

You don’t have to remain inside on beautiful days; a few sun safety tips lower your skin cancer risk. Enjoy the outdoors smartly by avoiding direct sunlight in the midday hours, when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Get under an umbrella, tree, or awning to avoid the sun’s rays. Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and broad-spectrum protection against UVB and UVA rays.

Cover up your arms and legs if you’ll be outdoors for long hours, and wear a hat with a brim and sunglasses, too. Stay out of indoor tanning beds – not a good idea, even to build a “base” or to look tan for that one big event. A tan isn’t healthy; it indicates you’ve done damage to your skin.

If you do have a suspicious lesion or mole, don’t hesitate to get it checked out. At Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center, Dr. Caballero can biopsy concerning areas by taking a small sample of cells for analysis at a laboratory. If you do have skin cancer, he offers minor surgery to remove the lesion, or if you have an advanced form, he can refer you to a specialist.

Contact Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center for all your medical dermatology concerns. Call the office in Warrenton, Virginia, or use the online scheduler to book an appointment. 

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