What causes skin cancer?
Skin cancer develops because of mutations in skin cells’ DNA. Cancer cells grow rapidly and form a mass or cancerous tumor. The majority of cases are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, tanning beds or sunlamps. UV radiation damages unprotected skin and causes a sunburn. Repeated UV exposure causes the skin to change: aging prematurely and its texture becomes rougher. As the damage builds up, skin cancer can develop.
Skin cancer can also develop on skin that gets no sun exposure. Other factors contribute to skin cancer including exposure to toxic chemicals or having a disease that weakens your immune system.
Skin cancer starts in the top layer of skin, the epidermis. It’s a thin layer that protects skin cells, which the body constantly sheds. The top layer of skin includes three main types of cells:
Who’s at risk for skin cancer?
Anyone can get skin cancer. However, your chances of getting skin cancer are much higher if you have one or more of these risk factors: