Skin Cancer: Causes and risk factors
The role of sun exposure in the development of skin cancer is now well known.
Skin Cancer: What Causes it and Who is at Risk? – Mayo Clinic
What are the symptoms ?
A “strange” mole, a spot on the skin whose color has changed, a pimple or a persistent crust… Looking at your skin carefully can help identify early skin cancer. It is recommended in prevention to consult a dermatologist once a year for an observation of all areas of the body, including those that you cannot see alone.
Causes and risk factors
Overexposure to the sun
The role of sun exposure in the development of skin cancer is now well known. “But if the vast majority of patients are aware of the harmful effects of the sun, the preventive measures are still not sufficiently respected”, regrets the dermatologist. Today, we know that 5 to 7 out of 10 skin cancers are directly linked to overexposure to UV-A and UV-B rays – the latter cause mutations in the genes of cells, and UVAs modify membranes. cells and nuclei. The intermittency of exposures with the alternation of white skin in winter and tanned in summer generates an additional risk. The age of onset of sunburn plays an important role: sunburn in childhood is associated with the development of pigmentary nevi, which can then cause a risk of melanoma.
Numerous studies have highlighted the increased risk of skin cancer when using tanning lamps. “Today, we know that UV cabins are carcinogenic, it’s even written at the entrance to tanning centres”, explains the dermatologist. Visiting tanning booths is therefore strongly discouraged. It is even prohibited for those under 18, whose skin is particularly fragile. In addition to this carcinogenic effect, tanning under lamps does not have the same protective effect as natural tanning: it is more superficial and is not accompanied by thickening of the skin.
About 10% of malignant melanomas occur in a family whose members have had 2 melanomas in 3 generations. This is why members of a family already affected by melanoma must be very vigilant in the sun and have their skin monitored systematically.
Number of moles
“The presence of many moles, 50 or more, is an important risk factor”, recognizes the professional. “But every strange mole, for example large, irregular and a little pinkish brown in color, is something to watch out for,” she adds.
Phototype is a categorization of skin types with respect to their sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation. It makes it possible to obtain an estimate of the risk linked to sun exposure according to the type of skin, and an assessment of the importance of the necessary protection. The lower the phototype, the more the subject must protect themselves from the sun. People with fair skin therefore have a greater risk of developing skin cancer when exposed to the sun given their relative lack of pigmentation. Six phototypes have been identified defining 6 skin types and hair colors.
Phototype 1: very fair, white skin, blue or green eyes, blond or red hair and freckles appearing very quickly in the event of exposure. Burns easily, never tans.
Phototype 2: very fair skin, which can become tanned, blond or light brown hair, freckles appearing in the sun. Burns easily, barely tans.
Phototype 3: medium skin, few or no freckles, blond or brown hair. Burns moderately, tans gradually.
Phototype 4: dark skin, no freckles, chestnut or brown hair. Barely burns, still tans well.
Phototype 5. Dark brown skin, naturally pigmented, black hair and eyes. Rarely burns, and tans a lot.
Phototype 6: Black skin, black hair and eyes, does not burn.
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