Skin Cancer

Adult Skin Problems

Collage of precancerous skin growths
Left: 2007 Interactive Medical Media LLC. All rights reserved. Right top and bottom: Copyright © ISM / Phototake -- All rights reserved.

Excessive exposure to sunlight is the main cause of skin cancer. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that can alter the genetic material in skin cells, causing mutations. Sunlamps, tanning booths, and X-rays also generate UV rays that can damage skin and cause malignant cell mutations. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma have been linked to chronic sun exposure, typically in fair-skinned people who work outside. Melanoma is associated with infrequent but excessive sunbathing that causes scorching sunburn. One blistering sunburn during childhood appears to double a person's risk for developing melanoma later in life. Read more about the basics of skin cancer.

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WebMD Image Collection Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on November 15, 2018

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Image: Left: 2007 Interactive Medical Media LLC. All rights reserved. Right top and bottom: Copyright © ISM / Phototake -- All rights reserved.

Text: "Understanding Skin Cancer - the Basics", WebMD Medical Reference

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