Non-melanoma skin cancers affect between 2 and 3 million people every year. Most cases are caused by damage from sun exposure, though there are other risks and causes that everyone should be aware of. Let’s look at the most common risks and causes of non-melanoma skin cancer.


A risk factor is anything which increases the chances of a person developing cancer. Here are some non-melanoma skin cancer risk factors.

Sun Exposure

Exposure to the sun is the leading risk factor in developing non-melanoma skin cancer. The exposure often happens for many years before cancer starts. The sun’s UV light damages the DNA inside the skin cells, which leads them to grow abnormally.

A history of sunburn, having fair skin, and use of tanning beds are all risk factors related to sun exposure and skin cancer.


Skin cancer can develop at any age, from infant to senior citizen. However, the risk of skin cancer developing increases as you grow older due to accumulated exposure to the sun and other causes. Conversely, young women are at a hightened risk due to a tendancy for more sun exposure. Additionally, middle-aged men also have a higher risk.

Previous Skin Cancer

If you have had skin cancer in the past, your chances of developing it again are higher than someone who has never had it in the past. It’s important to keep your skin away from the sun and look for any renewed signs of skin cancer.

Family History

Non-melanoma skin cancers don’t seem to run in families. However, some families are at higher risk of developing these types of cancers. For example, a family that has several members with fair skin is going to have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Certain Skin Conditions and Treatments

There are certain skin conditions that increase the chance of a person developing skin cancer. Those include solar keratosis and xeroderma pigmentosum.

Treating some skin conditions can also increase the chances. For example, ultraviolet light is useful for treating psoriasis and eczema. However, exposure to UV light increases the chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer.


Potential causes of non-melanoma cancer include a number of things.

Tanning Beds

Regular use of tanning beds under the age of 35 virtually guarantees most or almost all patients in developing non-melanoma skin cancer

Radiation exposure

Those that have undergone radiotherapy treatment or have been regularly exposed to radiation at their job have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Weakened Immune System

People with a weakened immune system, like those with HIV/AIDS or inflammatory diseases, or who are taking anti-rejection drugs for organ transplants, are more likely to develop skin cancer than those with a stronger immune system.

Human Papilloma Virus

HPV is well-known for causing cervical cancer. However, it also increases the risk of someone developing non-melanoma skin cancer.

Chemical Exposure

Being exposed to certain chemicals increases the chances of developing a cancer lesion on the skin. These include, but are not limited to, pitch, coal tar, arsenic, shale oil, petroleum products, and creosote.

Schedule a Consultation

If you recognize any of these risks or causes in your health history or lifestyle, it’s important to talk with a qualified dermatologist about your concerns. Call Jupiter Dermatology today to schedule an appointment for a screening or to learn more about preventing skin cancer.

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