Frequently Asked Questions
10. What is the most important risk factor for skin cancer?
Video length: 1 min 6 sec
Click to watch this video
Skin cancer is caused by DNA damage, which can result from excess exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Having a previous occurrence of skin cancer or a close family member with the disease also puts you at risk for skin cancer.
Other risk factors include having
- a weak immune system
- unusual moles or a large number of moles
- white or light (fair)-colored skin, especially with freckles
- blond or red hair or blue or green eyes
- scars or burns on the skin, or skin diseases that make someone sensitive to the sun.
In 2008 the National Cancer Institute developed a Melanoma Risk Tool which can help patients and their doctors determine their risk. The tool can be found at http://www.cancer.gov/melanomarisktool/.