Skin Cancer Prevention (Professional)
Who is at Risk?
Note: Separate PDQ summaries on Skin Cancer Screening, Skin Cancer Treatment, and Levels of Evidence for Cancer Screening and Prevention Studies are also available.
Individuals whose skin freckles, tans poorly, or burns easily after sun exposure are particularly susceptible to developing skin cancer. Observational and analytic epidemiologic studies have consistently shown that increased cumulative sun exposure is a risk factor for nonmelanoma skin cancer.[1,2] Organ transplant recipients receiving immunosuppressive drugs are at an elevated risk of skin cancer, particularly squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Arsenic exposure also increases the risk of cutaneous SCC.[3,4] In the case of melanoma, it seems that intermittent acute sun exposure leading to sunburn is more important than cumulative sun exposure; such exposures during childhood or adolescence may be particularly important. Nonmodifiable host factors, such as a large number of benign melanocytic nevi and atypical nevi may also increase the risk of developing cutaneous melanoma.
Factors Associated With an Increased Risk of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Sun and ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure
Based on solid evidence, sun and ultraviolet radiation exposure are associated with an increased risk of SCC and basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
Magnitude of Effect: Substantial, depending upon amount of exposure.
Factors Associated With an Increased Risk of Melanoma
Sun and UV radiation exposure
Based on fair evidence, intermittent acute sun exposure leading to sunburn is associated with an increased risk of melanoma.
Magnitude of Effect: Unknown.
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