What Causes Skin Cancer (Nonmelanoma)?

It’s difficult to say what exactly causes skin cancer, but basically, skin cancer occurs when something goes wrong during the body’s production of skin cells. Typically, the body’s skin cells grow old or become damaged over time, and normal cells grow and divide to form new, healthy cells to take their place. Sometimes, however, something goes wrong during this process, and new cells might be created when the body doesn’t need them, or old cells may not die as they should. When there’s a buildup of extra cells – old or new – they can form a malignant growth, or skin cancer. It’s what causes this process of building cells to go awry that is not always known with certainty. However, there are factors that are known to damage the DNA of skin cells. Since our genes control our bodies’ cell production, damaged DNA could be the cause of cell production problems and the development of cancerous tumors. Some of these factors that could be possible causes of skin cancer include:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) exposure – The sun is the most well-known source of UV radiation, but UV rays also come from tanning beds and other artificial sources.
  • Genetics – Some risk factors of skin cancer can be inherited through our DNA.
  • Immunosuppression – Some conditions, like HIV/AIDS, and certain medications, such as those provided after organ transplants, can suppress the body’s immune system and might contribute to the development of skin cancer.
  • Radiation exposure – In addition to UV, there are other forms of radiation that may adversely affect the skin cells, such as X-rays or therapeutic radiation.

Whatever the cause of your particular case of skin cancer may be, the most important step is to get on the right path for treatment, and Moffitt Cancer Center is here to help. Our Cutaneous Oncology Program takes a multispecialty approach to creating individualized treatment plans for our patients in order to ensure they receive the best possible care.

For more information about what causes skin cancer, or to set up a no-referral-required appointment with Moffitt, please call us at 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online.