Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, yet it’s also one of the most preventable cancers. When you know what causes skin cancer, you can take steps to avoid this potentially dangerous disease.
If you develop skin cancer, you can turn to the compassionate care available at Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton. In our office, you’re supported by an experienced team, and your treatment is in the skilled hands of Rafael C. Cabrera, MD, FACS, an expert in skin cancer removal and reconstruction techniques that minimize scarring.
Cancer develops when genes mutate and change the way cells grow and function. Some genetic mutations are inherited. As a result, you’re born with genes that increase your risk of developing certain types of skin cancer.
Genetic mutations are also acquired. Your genes can change over the course of your lifetime, under the influence of lifestyle choices and your exposure to environmental substances. When it comes to skin cancer, ultraviolet light is your biggest enemy.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the top cause of skin cancer. UV light is a form of radiation that comes from the sun and tanning beds. This type of radiation has enough energy to damage the genes inside the cells that make up your skin.
It doesn’t matter if you spend time outside in the sun or inside using a tanning bed. Both lead to skin cancer if you don’t protect your skin with sunscreen or clothes that block the light.
Your cumulative exposure to UV light over the years determines your overall risk for skin cancer. That’s why you’re more likely to develop skin cancer as you get older. Intense exposure that causes blistering sunburns also boosts your risk.
Though UV light is by far the primary source of skin cancer, the genes you’re born with also have a role. About 10% of people who develop the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma, inherit genetic mutations that significantly raise their chances.
You may have a genetic risk if:
If you’re concerned about your family history, you may want to consider genetic testing to determine if you have any of the known mutations.
It’s important to keep in mind that inheriting a genetic mutation doesn’t mean your fate is determined. You can still prevent skin cancer, or at least lower your risk, by skipping the tanning bed, protecting your skin when you’re outside, and avoiding sunlight between 10am and 4pm.
You should also get regular skin exams to detect changes in moles and other skin lesions. Early detection allows us to treat melanoma while it’s still curable.
The primary risk factor for skin cancer — exposure to UV light — is one you can change by protecting your skin. You can’t change most other skin cancer risk factors, but they serve as a warning, alerting you that you should be extra careful to avoid excess sun exposure. These include:
If you have questions about skin cancer or you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer and need expert care, call Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton, or request an appointment online.