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7 Surprising Skin Cancer Risks

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and the rate for the deadliest type, melanoma, has in recent decades climbed by 50% in women under age 39. And you're vulnerable even if you don't have well-known predispositions like a fair complexion, a family history, or a track record of childhood sunburns. Researchers have found several new factors that could increase anyone's odds. To protect yourself, learn about these alarming risks and what you can do to avoid them.
Risk #1: Your doctor doesn't check your skin.
skin cancer risk and prevention
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Nola Lopez

In a survey of primary care physicians from all 50 states, 68% said they didn't routinely perform whole-body skin exams on their patients at average risk. Most cited lack of time. Yet this is no minor omission: According to a recent study, doctors are four times more likely than a patient to detect a melanoma when it's "thin"—a sign that it has been spotted early and has an excellent chance (over 90%) of being cured.

What You Should Do: Ask your doctor to look for any abnormal-looking moles whenever you have a routine checkup. There are no standard guidelines on how often you should get skin exams, but if you're at high risk experts typically recommend seeing a dermatologist once a year. And if something suspicious is spotted, remember that not all skin cancers are melanomas. Almost 90% are basal cell carcinomas, which seldom spread to internal organs (although they can grow large and destroy surrounding tissue). Another type, squamous cell carcinoma, also rarely metastasizes.