How Do You Get Skin Cancer?

July 3rd, 2013

With summer here, so, too, comes sunny skies and humidity, which means people will venture outside, but sometimes danger can lurk - skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. It accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the U.S. More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed each year. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounts for 75 percent of the 12,000-plus skin cancer deaths each year.

Educating yourself about skin cancer and sun protection

Skin cancer, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, can almost always be cured when it's found and treated early. That's why it's a good idea to check your skin every month for new growths and other signs of cancer. Protecting your skin today may help prevent cancer later in life. Most skin cancer appears after age 50, but skin damage from the sun can start during childhood. When you're at the beach, make sure to use sunscreen (added bonus: it can prevent wrinkles, blotches or spots on your skin and other damage caused by the sun).

So, how do you get skin cancer? Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. While anyone can get skin cancer, those at highest risk include people with:

  • Light-colored or white skin with freckles
  • Blonde or red hair
  • Blue or green eyes

You are at higher risk for melanoma if you have:

  • Unusual moles
  • A larger number of moles
  • A family history of melanoma

Stay tuned for more of our summer coverage of skin cancer and helpful tips for protecting yourself and your loved ones.

Topics: Cancer