Skin cancer: causes

Skin cancer: causes

Depending on the type, skin cancer can affect different layers of the skin. But with all forms of skin cancer, exposure to UV rays is one of the most important causes. That is why too much sun and solarium are common triggers. Every sunburn contributes to increasing the risk of developing skin cancer.

Which skin layers are affected by skin cancer?

White and black skin cancer arise in different areas of the skin: The basal cell carcinomas develop in the skin’s basal cell layer (stratum basale). This innermost cell layer of the epidermis is used for skin regeneration; this is where the cells divide. The tactile disks for the sensation of touch and the pigment-forming melanocytes, which protect us from UV radiation and are responsible for skin colour, are also located here. These are the origins of malignant melanoma. Above the basal cell layer is the spinous cell layer (stratum spinosum), where the cells are already beginning to horny. Here is the place of origin of the spinalioma.


Skin cancer: Causes are sun and solarium

In all three forms, it is assumed that there is a connection between cancer development and exposure to UV rays from the sun and solariums. Excessive sunbathing damages the genetic material in the skin cells. Although our repair department is always on the go, they can only sometimes keep up with the corrections. Sometimes changes (mutations) then remain permanently and accumulate, leading to cancerous growth later in life.

Causes of white skin cancer

Regular radiation exposure seems to play a role in white skin cancer, which is why parts of the body such as the nose, forehead, lower lip, neck, hands and ears are also affected, as are people who spend a lot of their lives outdoors. People with a light skin type are particularly affected, men more than women. Long-term suppression of the immune system by medication (e.g. after a transplant) can also promote the development of white skin cancer.


Causes of black skin cancer

The exact role of UV radiation exposure in melanoma is not yet clear. It is suspected that intensive, short-term radiation is more damaging here and that too much sun in childhood and adolescence (especially sunburn) promotes the formation of birthmarks and, thus, the later development of melanoma. However, there are other risk factors:

  • light skin type
  • genetic predisposition
  • many and atypical or significant birthmarks/moles

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