My Skin Centre

Traits that increase your skin cancer risk

In Australia we have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with an estimated 750,000 Australians being treated annually. Exposure to UV radiation can cause skin cells to become cancer cells, and our UV radiation levels can be high enough to damage the skin throughout the year 

UV radiation from the sun’s rays can penetrate unprotected skin and can cause damage to the DNA of skin cells. This can potentially cause the  cells to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way causing a tumour or skin cancer. The epidermis is the top or outer layer of the skin and the three main types of cancer which are commonly found here are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Fortunately, skin cancers can often be prevented by using adequate sun protection and can be removed if they are diagnosed and treated early. Although skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, due to genetic traits and environmental factors some people are at a higher risk than others of developing skin cancer.

Genetic Traits

Having a family history of skin cancer can increase the risk of developing the disease. Genetic traits such as hair colour, eye colour, skin colour, and the number of moles and freckles on your skin are all potential risk factors for developing skin cancer. Although skin cancer can develop if you only have one mole on your body, the more moles you have on your skin, the higher the risk of melanoma.

People with a fair complexion, skin that is sensitive to sunburn, freckles, light eye colour, light or red hair are also at an increased risk. Regular full body skin and mole checks can track any mole changes because the longer a melanoma is left to grow, the more difficult it is to treat.

Environmental Factors

Cumulative UV radiation from sun exposure is responsible for 90% of skin cancers. The risks of skin cancer are increased dependent on factors such as skin colour, sensitivity to sunburn, the intensity and length of sun exposure, and the age at which this sun exposure occurs. Working outdoors or participating in sport and leisure activities in the sun without sun protection can result in permanent skin damage from exposure to high levels of UV rays.

Skin cancer risks increase with age possibly due to changes to skin texture and the accumulative effect of the UV radiation from years of sun exposure. A history of 5 or 6 bad sunburns can increase risks of skin cancer by 50%. Fair skin types are more susceptible to sunburn but people with darker skin are not immune to skin cancer 

Those who have had an incidence of skin cancer are at 30% more risk of developing another within 3 years, either due to genetics or sun damaged skin. A solarium emits UV radiation up to six times stronger than the midday sun and is a huge risk to the development of melanoma. fortunately these are now banned in Australia but for many the damage has already been done. Men appear to be more at risk than women to basal and squamous cell cancers of the skin.

Exposure to chemicals and heavy metals such as arsenic, industrial tar, coal and certain oils increases the risk of skin cancer. Radiation treatment presents a higher risk of skin cancer in the area that was treated. People who have weakened immune systems tend to have higher risk of developing non melanoma skin cancers which grow faster with potentially fatal results. Non melanoma skin cancers can frequently develop after organ transplantation when the immune system is suppressed.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself in the sun and regularly monitor any skin changes.

Please contact My Skin Centre for a full skin body skin check. Our experienced team will be able to offer you peace of mind, and with 9 convenient locations throughout the Perth region there is sure to be a clinic near you.