Skin Cancer

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Risk Factors

Skin most at risk

Anyone can develop skin cancer, whatever their skin colour. However, certain skin types are more at risk from the effects of UV radiation than others.

  • Skin type people with certain skin types are more at risk of skin cancer, such as those with very fair skin and red or fair hair. Find out more about your skin type.
  • A personal history of having a melanoma
  • A family history of melanoma
  • Moles having a large number of moles (50-100) or multiple unusual moles (large, uneven colour or irregular border) can indicate a higher risk of developing malignant melanoma
  • History of severe sunburn especially in childhood has been linked to both malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer
  • Reduced immunity for example due to an organ transplant

Melanoma risk factors

  • Lots of moles (50-100) or unusual moles (large, uneven colour or irregular border)
  • Dark skinned people can develop melanoma, usually on either the soles of the feet or palms of the hands
  • Rates increase as you get older and 47% of cases occur each year among the 65+ age group. Although 9% of all cases occur at under 35 years of age.
  • A personal or family history of melanoma skin cancer

Non melanoma skin cancer risk factors

  • Chemical exposure including creosote, tar, soot and petroleum extracts
  • Previous skin damage e.g. severe burns to the skin or a history of ulceration
  • Radiation including radiation exposure as part of a cancer treatment
  • Men are at greater risk
  • Being over 50
  • Albinism – skin lacking in protective pigment
  • Solar Keratosis or sun spots