How does early life sun exposure affect skin cancer risk?

How does sun exposure in early life affect risk of developing basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas?

Sun exposure is the main cause of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, although pattern and amount differ by cancer type. Sun sensitivity is the major risk factor.

A study published in the Photochemistry and Photobiology journal investigated the risk factors and residential ambient UV in a population-based sample of Australians. The cohort included 916 basal cell carcinomas, 433 squamous cell carcinomas, and 1,224 controls.

Increased sun sensitivity was found to increase the risk of basal cell carcinoma by 60 percent and was associated with a two-fold increase in squamous cell carcinoma risk.

The risk of basal cell carcinoma increased with higher early-life residential UV in all participants.

The risk of squamous cell carcinoma increased with long-term cumulative sun exposure.

The study concluded that sun sensitivity is important for both cancers. Early-life UV appears to increase basal cell carcinoma risk, while long-term cumulative sun exposure appears to increase squamous cell carcinoma risk.

Read more recent research on cutaneous carcinomas.


Kricker, A. et al. (November / December 2017.) Early Life UV and Risk of Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinoma in New South Wales, Australia. Photochemistry and Photobiology. Volume 93. Issue 6. Pages 1483–1491. DOI: 10.1111/php.12807.

Learn more about skin cancer medicine in primary care at the next Skin Cancer Certificate Courses:

Skin Cancer Certificate Courses in Australia

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