Risks for Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) has numerous risk factors. These include:

Sun: In general, sun exposure is the highest risk factor for all skin cancers. The more time one spends in the sun, the greater the risk of cancer over time. The risk of skin cancer is highest for individuals who live in areas where UV light exposure is high. In the US, these areas are Florida, Texas and California. Worldwide, skin cancers are most common in Australia and South Africa. The majority of sun related skin cancers are seen after the 5th decade of life.

In most cases, the sun exposure has to be prolonged and continued for many years before the skin cancers appear. Most individuals who develop skin cancer have had sun exposure starting since childhood.

Avoiding sun dramatically reduces the risk of skin cancer. The use of sunscreens is a must for all individuals who like the sun.

Tanning Booths: Artificial sources of UV light such as tanning booths and sun lamps are also a high risk for causing BCC. It is imperative that anyone who uses these artificial means to tan apply sun screen thoroughly each time they use these devices.

Therapeutic radiation. Radiation therapy itself is also a risk factor for skin cancer. Factors which determine skin cancer after radiation exposure include the dose of radiation, duration of exposure and the pigmentation of your skin. Cancers which develop after radiation exposure take decades to develop.

Fair skinned: Individuals who are fair or light skinned are more prone to skin cancers than dark individuals. Those who sunburn easily are also at a high risk for skin cancers.

Chemicals: Exposure to some environmental toxins can also predispose one to skin cancers. Arsenic is a common skin carcinogen and even though its use is regulated, it can be found in the environment. Fruits like grapes and meat products are sometimes found to have high levels of arsenic. Farmers, gardeners and wine makes and those who live near the mining wells are at the highest risk of exposure to arsenic

Immunosuppressant drugs: Individual who take chemotherapy or immunosuppressant drugs after transplants are at a high risk for developing skin cancers. The skin cancers usually occur within a 2-5 year period. All individuals who take such medications are closely monitored for skin lesions.

Genetic factors: There are several very rare genetic disorders which make one prone to the development of skin cancers. These individuals unfortunately are diagnosed early in life with the cancers and prevention is difficult. The most common genetic syndrome known to cause BCC is Gorlins syndrome.

Another common syndrome which also makes one prone to skin cancer is xeroderma pigmentosum. In this syndrome, the body is unable to make the repair of the cell after sun damage. Even the slightest amount of sun exposure leads to skin cancers

In general men are more prone to skin cancers than women. However, this trend appears to be changing and skin cancers in women are also on the rise

Family history: Skin cancers are more common in families who have had a history of skin cancers. While everyone in the family may not develop the cancer, the chances of developing a skin cancer are much higher when compared to families who do not have skin cancers.

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