What Causes of Skin Cancer? Types, Treatment, and Prevention

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What causes of skin cancer? How do I know I have skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. It mostly occurs due to exposure to the sun. Although, it can spread to other areas of the skin.

The most frequent kind of cancer in the United States is skin cancer. However, it is one of the most treatable cancers if detected early.

Minimizing your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation may help lower your chance of developing skin cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer


Rare and very aggressive skin cancer called melanoma occurs in the melanocyte.

This is where your melanin comes from. melanoma can become more difficult to treat if you don’t find and treat it early.


The majority of skin cancers are nonmelanoma, which means they don’t affect the melanocytes.

Two of the most common are basal cells and squamous cells.

They can almost always be cured if they are found early.

What causes of skin cancer and what are the signs?

The scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, and hands, as well as the legs in women, are the most common places for skin cancer to occur.

But it can also grow on parts of your body that don’t get a lot of sunlight, like your palms, under your fingernails or toenails, and in your genital area.

Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, even those with darker skin.

In people with dark skin tones, melanoma is more likely to happen in places that don’t get sun, like the palms and soles of the feet.

Related: What Is a lesion On The skin? Types, Treatment, And More

Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms

On sun-exposed parts of your body, such as your face, ears, and hands; squamous cell carcinoma is most common.

People with darker skin are more prone to develop squamous cell carcinoma on parts of the body that are seldom exposed to sunlight.

Cancerous squamous cell tumors may occur as:

  • A hard, red nodule
  • A scaly, crusty lesion having a flat surface.

Melanoma symptoms

Melanoma can grow on any part of your body, even if you have normal skin or a cancerous mole.

A lot of the time, men who get melanoma have it on their faces or on their bodies. It is most common in women to get melanoma on their legs.

Melanoma can occur in skin areas not exposed to the sun.

People of any skin tone can get melanoma.

A lot of people with darker skin have melanomas that appear on their palms or sole. 

Common symptoms of melanoma include:

An unpleasant, itchy, or even burning lesion.

Discoloration of the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, vagina, or anus or on any of your other extremities.

  • A large brownish area with darker spots all over it.
  • A mole that changes in color and size.
  • Some parts of the lesion are red or pink, while others are white or blue. 

Basal cell carcinoma symptoms

Basal cell carcinoma usually happens in parts of your body that get exposed to UV like your neck or face. Symptoms include:

  • A scar-like lesion that is flat, flesh-colored, or brown.
  • A bleeding or crusting wound that heals and reappears
  • Bump: Pearly or waxy.

Symptoms of less common types of cancers

Sebaceous gland carcinoma.

This unusual and severe cancer starts in the oil glands in the skin.

Sebaceous gland carcinomas — which normally look like hard, painless nodules — may occur anywhere, but most occur on the eyelid, where they’re commonly mistaken for other eyelid issues.

Related: What Are Skin Grafts? Types, Procedures For Skin Graft

Kaposi sarcoma

This type of skin cancer is very rare. It grows in the skin’s blood vessels and causes red or purple spots on the skin or mucous membranes.

Kaposi sarcoma is more common in people who have weak immune systems, like people who have AIDS, and in people who take medications that weaken their natural immune system, like people who have had organ transplants.

Other people who are more likely to get Kaposi sarcoma are young men who live in Africa or older men of Italian or Eastern European Jewish heritage who are older than 50.

Merkel cell carcinoma

This causes hard, shiny nodules that appear on or near the surface of the skin and in hair follicles.

It is mostly found on the head, neck, and back of the body.

What causes of skin cancer

What causes of skin cancer?

DNA mutation

Skin cancer arises when one of the three kinds of cells that make up your skin grows abnormally.

As they grow and divide without halting, they may metastasize (DNA mutation).

This means they spread to other regions in your body via your lymphatic system.

Cells involved in skin cancer

The epidermis, which is the outermost layer of your skin, is where skin cancer develops.

This thin layer of skin cells serves as a protective barrier on the surface of the skin and is constantly lost by the body.

Three cells make up the epidermis:

Squamous cells are found just below the surface of the skin and act as the skin’s inner lining.

Basal cells

They make new skin cells and are below the squamous cells.


These are cells that produce melanin, the substance responsible for the color of your skin. They are in the lower part of your epidermis.

Melanocytes produce more melanin when you are under the sun as protection for your skin.

UV radiation

Most skin malignancies are induced by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

When you don’t protect your skin, UV radiation from sunshine or tanning beds may destroy your skin’s DNA.

And when the DNA is mutated, it can’t effectively control skin cell growth, leading to cancer.

Related: What Are Skin Tags And How Do I Remove Them?

Who’s Most at Risk?

Risks of skin cancer might be increased by the following factors:


People who have multiple moles or atypical moles termed dysplastic nevi are at higher risk of skin cancer.

It is more likely that cancer will develop in these aberrant moles, which seem irregular and often bigger than normal moles.

Keep an eye out for any changes in your moles if you have a history of having abnormal ones.

Precancerous skin lesions

If you have actinic keratoses, you’re at greater risk for skin cancer.

These precancerous skin growths often appear as rough, scaly patches that vary in color from brown to dark pink.

Fair-skinned people who have had their skin harmed by the sun are more likely to have them on their face, head, and hands.

Fair skin

Anyone can have skin cancer but fair-skinned people are at a greater risk.

Less melanin (skin pigment) means less protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

History of sunburns

Having suffered one or more blistering sunburns as a kid or adolescent, chances are you’ll have skin cancer as an adult.

Sunburns in adulthood also constitute a risk factor.

Excessive exposure to the sun

Anyone who spends a significant amount of time in the sun is at risk of developing skin cancer, particularly if they don’t wear protective clothing or sunscreen.

Tanning, including the use of tanning lights and beds, puts you at danger as well. Tans are the result of your skin’s damage reaction to excessive UV exposure.


People who live in bright, warm regions are more likely to be exposed to sunlight than those who live in cooler climes.

Living at higher altitudes, where the sun shines the brightest, exposes you to greater radiation.

Weak immune system

People with weak immune systems are more likely to get skin cancer.

It also includes people who have HIV or AIDS and those who have had an organ transplant and are taking immunosuppressive drugs.


Some people who have had radiation treatment for skin conditions like eczema and acne may be more likely to get skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma.

Exposure to toxic substances

Some substances, like arsenic, may make you more likely to get skin cancer.

A history of skin cancer in the family

You may be at greater risk of developing skin cancer if one or more of your family members has already been diagnosed with the illness.

Related: Inner Thigh Chafing: Causes, Cure, and Prevention

A personal history of skin cancer

It’s possible to get skin cancer a second time if you’ve already had the disease.

What causes of skin cancer? 6 ways to prevent skin cancer

Some skin cancers can be prevented. Here are tips on how to prevent skin cancer.

1. Dress in safety clothing

Sunscreens don’t protect you from all UV rays.

Dark clothing that covers your arms and legs can be very useful.

Some companies also make clothes that protect against the sun. A dermatologist can help you choose the right brand.
Sunglasses? Definitely.

2. Avoid being in the sun in the middle of the day

You get UV radiation all year long, and clouds don’t protect you from harmful rays that much

Keep your skin safe by not exposing yourself to the sun when it is at its strongest.

Sunburns and suntans can cause skin damage and make you more likely to get skin cancer.

Sun exposure that builds up over time may also cause skin cancer.

3. Watch out for sun-sensitizing drugs

Some common prescriptions such as antibiotics can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. This can make your skin more vulnerable to the sun.

Moreover, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any medicines you take.

If they make you more sensitive to sunlight, take extra steps to stay out of the sun to protect your skin.

4. Wear sunscreen

Sunscreens do not completely shield the skin from dangerous UV rays, particularly those that might cause skin cancers like melanoma.

However, they protect your skin from sun damage.

Even on overcast days, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and above.

Use a thick layer of sunscreen and reapply it every two hours if you are going to be swimming or sweating.

5. Avoid tanning beds at all costs

The UV radiation emitted by tanning lamps might raise your chance of developing skin cancer.

6. Notify your doctor if you see any changes in your skin

If you see any new moles, freckles, or pimples on your skin, don’t hesitate to have them checked out by a dermatologist.

Your face, neck, and ears should be examined.  And make sure to check your arms and hands from the top to the underside, as well as from the top to the bottom.

Also inspect places that aren’t exposed to the sunlight for signs of damage.

What causes of skin cancer? How is skin cancer treated?

The size, location, kind, and stage of your skin cancer will all play a role in the treatment you get.

Your healthcare team may prescribe one or more of the following therapies:


The immune system is stimulated to combat cancer cells through biological therapy.


Using a topical cream, your immune system is induced to seek out and destroy cancer cells.


In cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the growth, and when it thaws, the tissue is destroyed.

Excisional surgery

This involves cutting away the growth, as well as part of the good skin that surrounds it.

Related: What Causes Itching Of The skin? Treatment for Itchy Skin

Mohs surgery

Here, the growth is eliminated layer by layer until there are no aberrant cells evident in any of the layers.

Electrodessication and curretage

In this procedure, a large spoon-shaped blade is used to remove cancer cells, then an electric needle is utilized to burn the remaining cancer cells.


A needle or IV line is used to infuse the cancer-killing drugs into the patient’s body.

Photodynamic therapy

The cancer cells are destroyed by a combination of laser light and medication.


The cancer cells are killed by high-powered energy beams.

What causes of skin cancer? Diagnosis of skin cancer

You should see your doctor right away if you find any new or changing growths on your skin that seem worrisome.

Your doctor will examine your skin or refer you to a specialist for diagnosis.

It is probable that your doctor or specialist will inspect the form, size, color, and texture of the suspicious region on your skin.

Scanning, bleeding, or dry spots will also be checked for by the dermatologist.

They may conduct a biopsy if they think it’s malignant.

If you have skin cancer, you may need more tests to find out how far it has spread.

Also, the treatment option depends on what kind of skin cancer you have and how far it has spread as well as other factors.


Skin cancer, as a matter of fact, most kinds of cancers can be properly managed if detected on time.

This is why you should pay attention to your skin and watch out for any unusual lesions on them.

See a doctor if you notice any unusual growths on your skin.

If you have questions about this article? Kindly drop it in the comment box below, we will be happy to help you.

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