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What Increases Your Risk

Risk factors (things that increase your risk) for nonmelanomaskin cancer include:

  • Sunlight, sun lamps, and tanning beds. These expose you to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
    • UV radiation affects people of all skin types, but especially those with light skin color, freckles, blond or red hair, and blue or light-colored eyes.
    • Where you live makes a difference. People who live closer to the equator get more UV radiation. And people who live at higher altitudes, such as in the mountains, get more UV radiation.
  • A family history of skin cancer or a personal history of skin cancer. Or other things that affect your skin, such as:
    • Inherited genetic disorders, such as xeroderma pigmentosum.
    • A history of severe sunburns, especially during childhood.
    • Scars from severe burns or inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Being older than 40.
  • Being male. Men develop skin cancer more often than women.
  • Smoking.
  • Repeated exposure to X-rays, certain chemicals (such as arsenic, coal tar, creosote), and radioactive substances (such as radium).
  • Being infected with a certain type of human papillomavirus (HPV).

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas can occur in people with dark skin. But these cancers are much more common in people with light skin.

Recommended Related to Melanoma/Skin Cancer

Stay Safe in the Sun After Skin Cancer

If you've had skin cancer, you don't need to stay indoors and read a book while everyone else is out riding a bike or at a ball game. You do need to be extra careful in the sun, though. "We want to encourage a healthy lifestyle," says Lisa Chipps, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. But once you've had a skin cancer, she says, you're more likely to have another. If you've had a melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, you're nine times more likely to have a new one...

Read the Stay Safe in the Sun After Skin Cancer article > >

The risk of squamous cell carcinoma is higher in people who have weakened immune systems. This includes people who have had organ transplants and take medicines to prevent rejection of the new organ.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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