7 Traits That Increase Your Skin Cancer Risk

Are you at risk of skin cancer? Anyone can develop skin cancer, which means all Australians need to be vigilant about using sun protection and get regular skin checks. Here are seven traits that put you at a higher risk of developing the disease.

1. Having a large number of moles

If you have a large number of moles on your skin, you have an increased risk of melanoma. However, sometimes skin cancer can develop in the only mole on your body. If you have a large number of moles, it's important to get a regular full-body skin check so your doctor can track any changes. The longer you leave melanoma, the harder it is to treat.

2. A personal history of skin cancer

A previous skin cancer will increase your risk for developing further skin cancers. Often this is a symptom of very sun damaged skin or possessing a genetic risk.

3. A history of melanoma in your family

Most skin cancers can be attributed to UV exposure, however some melanomas appear on hidden skin and are more likely to be due to an inherited gene. If a family member was diagnosed with a melanoma at an early age or with multiple melanomas, you may have a higher risk for melanoma.

4. A history of bad sunburn

Getting just five sunburns will double your risk of skin cancer. If you have a fair skin type and are susceptible to burning, you will have an increased risk for skin cancer. People with a darker skin type may also get skin cancer, for example, reggae singer Bob Marley who died from melanoma on his toe. Remember that not all melanomas start from a mole; they can also appear on unmarked skin.

5. Using a solarium

The levels of UV radiation emitted from a solarium bed can be up to six times stronger than the midday sun. Research shows that people who use a solarium before the age of 35 have a 59 per cent greater risk of melanoma than those who do not use a solarium.

6. Working outdoors or spending a lot of time in the sun

If you are an outdoor worker or spend time in the sun for all or part of the day, you will be exposed to high levels of UV rays which is responsible for 90 per cent of all skin cancers. All skin types are at risk and the damage is permanent. It is vital to practise good sun protection habits if you work outdoors.

7. Having a mole on your skin that looks different to the others

Do you have a mole on your skin that looks different to all your other moles or a sore that is itching or bleeding? Melanomas often have an unusual appearance compared to all your other moles on your skin. If you notice a mole that stands out or is changing, it is important to have that mole checked quickly.

Over 30 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma each day, and early detection offers the best chance of successful treatment, so make sure you get a regular skin check! To find out more about your skin cancer risk, take our quick quiz now.