Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common forms of skin cancer, but they are easily treated if detected early.
This skin cancer risk assessment questionnaire is helpful in determining your risk of skin cancer.
Answer yes or no to the following:
Do you have …
- Fair skin that can burn easily
- Red hair or blue eyes
- Previous episodes of sunburn
- Previous frequent sun exposure
- An outdoor job
- An outdoor sport or hobby
- Lots of moles
- A mole that has changed
- A skin spot that bleeds easily or is tender
- A personal or family history of skin cancer
- A lowered immune system, such as taking immunosuppressant medication
If you answered yes to any of the questions, you have a higher risk for skin cancer than people with low-risk factors and should consider having a professional skin cancer examination by a board-certified dermatologist.
Skin Type & Sensitivity to Sunburn
Anyone can develop skin cancer; although, people with certain types of skin are at greater risk for developing sun damage and skin cancer. Your skin type (phototype) is one of the main factors in your risk for skin cancer and is based on how your skin reacts to UV light. There are six skin phototypes, going from light to dark, with Type I being the most sensitive to UV and Type VI being the least sensitive to UV.
In general, people with darker skin have more protection against skin cancer because they naturally produce higher concentrations of melanin than fair-skinned people. However, all people need to protect their skin.
Moles, or naevi, are dense collections of the pigment forming cells called melanocytes. Most people will develop several moles during childhood. Some people develop many, and some are born with them. Moles are determined through your genetics as well as your exposure and sensitivity to UV light. Some people have larger moles, often with odd shapes or colors. These are termed atypical, or dysplastic. People who have lots of moles, or atypical moles, are identified as being at higher risk of developing melanoma than people with only a few moles.
Your genes are inherited from your parents, and this will largely determine your skin type as well as your types and number of moles. Accordingly, if any of your immediate family members have had skin cancer, then your risk of developing skin cancer is likely to be increased. If any of your immediate family has had a melanoma, especially at a young age or if they have had more than one melanoma or multiple moles, then your risk of developing melanoma is likely to be increased.
Outdoor Workers and Sports Enthusiasts
Outdoor workers receive a higher dose of sun exposure and UV light as well as more frequent exposure than indoor workers. The higher and more frequent doses of UV light causes damage to the skin. The damage accumulates over time, pacing people who work outdoors for all or part of the day at higher than average risk of skin cancer. This also applies to people who spend a lot of time outside during their leisure time golfing, cycling or playing sports.
Lowered Immune Function
People who have lowered immune function are at increased risk of developing skin cancer. This applies especially to those who take immunosuppressant medications such as after organ transplant to prevent organ rejection, people with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, or people with infectious diseases such as HIV.
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