Are the risk factors similar between skin cancer and melanoma? Are there differences?
Answer by Marianne Berwick, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology at University of New Mexico and leading authority on epidemiology of melanoma.
The risk factors for skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) and melanoma are similar yet different. Melanoma seems to be caused by intense, intermittent sun exposure, the blast of sun that you get when you are out sailing and have been in the office all week. Squamous cell carcinoma seems to have a direct relationship with the sun. After about 50-75,000 hours of sun exposure, the risk for SCC is quite linear. Basal cell carcinoma is somewhat inbetween and seems to be caused by both chronic sun exposure as well as intermittent sun exposure.