(Maja Begovic/Healthing) — Atypical moles , exposure to sun and ultraviolet radiation have been linked to skin cancer, but other factors , such as living in high altitude areas, having a weakened immune system or being diagnosed with human papilloma virus or HPV may also contribute to skin cancer risk. And just because some areas of the body aren’t exposed to the sun, it doesn’t mean you’re not at risk — skin cancer can also develop under the nails, around the genitals and in the anal area. In fact, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, 20 per cent of melanomas occur in areas that aren’t often exposed to the sun.
“It is unfortunately common enough,” says Dr. Renée Beach , board-certified dermatologist in Toronto. “We hypothesize that in these instances, there may be a role of low-grade consistent trauma or genetic predisposition in developing these types of skin cancers.”
While a skin exam should be part of a yearly health checkup, people who have a higher risk of developing skin cancer should be examined more often. Some factors that put you at an increased risk include a personal history of skin cancer, light-coloured skin, eyes and hair, many moles or freckles, having had several blistering sunburns as a child, and having had PUVA therapy for psoriasis. (…)