Blog about skin health and skin cancer prevention

Skin cancer – what are the causes?

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Photo Werner Stieber-0925 (1)

OA Dr. Michael Tripolt, MPH, Dermatology and Venereology

Studied medicine at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz and Cambridge University (degree in Human Medicine 1999 and Public Health 2005). Residency at the Univ. Clinic Graz (graduated in surgery in 2006, graduated in dermatology in 2012).

The number of moles acquired after birth is the highest risk factor for malignant melanoma. People with more than 100 moles have a seven times increased risk of developing this type of skin cancer. Sunburns in childhood and adolescence increase the risk of skin cancer two to three times.

Genetic predispositions also play a role: people with fair skin, reddish or blond hair, a tendency to freckles, sunburn spots or with a family member who has malignant melanoma can have a doubled risk per factor of developing this disease themselves.

You have an increased risk of developing skin cancer if you

  • have had frequent sunburns, especially in childhood and adolescence.
  • go to the solarium regularly.
  • have many moles.
  • have a weakened immune system.
  • have someone in your family who has been diagnosed with skin cancer.

Furthermore, it is important to know about your own skin type. In Europe, skin types 1 to 4 are most typical. Skin types 5 and 6 are more typical for people of Asian and African origin. The following skin reactions occur after 30 minutes of unprotected tanning in June.

Skin type 1: Light skin, freckles, blond or light red hair, blue or green eyes. In the sun: always sunburn – never tan.

Skin type 2: Fair skin, blond hair, blue or green eyes. In the sun: always sunburn, weak tan.

Skin type 3: Dark hair, brown eyes. Slight sunburn in the sun, good tan.

Skin type 4:Naturally dark skin, dark or black hair, brown eyes. In the sun: never sunburn, always tan.

Important: visits to a solarium also significantly increase the risk of skin cancer.

The artificial UV radiation from sunbeds is definitely not a healthier version of the sun. In July 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the natural UV radiation of the sun and the artificial radiation from sunbeds in the highest category of carcinogenic factors. It is thus rated as carcinogenic as tobacco or asbestos.

In addition to UV radiation, people with a weakened body immune system are particularly at risk of developing skin cancer. This applies, for example, to people whose immune system is only working “at half strength” due to an organ transplant, so that the transplant is not rejected, but also to those with certain diseases (such as lymphoma, HIV).

If one or even several of the above risk factors apply to you, this does not necessarily mean that you will fall ill. However, it seems reasonable to consider your personal risk when deciding whether or not to attend cancer screening tests.

You might also be interested in...

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SkinScreener cannot replace a dermatological examination. It is not giving a diagnosis and cannot be a substitute for visiting a healthcare professional.
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