Skin Cancer - Causes

Heredity (the process by which genes are passed from one generation to another) is thought to be an important factor in the development of melanomas. For all forms of skin cancer, exposure to sunlight is probably the most important environmental factor. Research suggests that sunburns received early in one's childhood can lead to skin cancer later in life. A cancer usually does not show up until ten to twenty years after the sunburn has been received. For this reason, skin cancers seldom develop before a person reaches his or her twenties.

Other factors may also lead to skin cancer. For example, people who work with certain chemicals may be at risk for the disease. Also, people with weakened immune systems, such as those who have AIDS, may be more likely to develop some kinds of skin cancer.

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