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Skin Cancer Risk Detection

Melanin is the pigment in your skin responsible for tanning but it has many other functions including absorbing ultraviolet radiation (UVR), scattering UVR, protecting your DNA form UVR etc. The word melanin is like coffee or tea in that there are many different types of melanin. Not all types of melanin can carry out the various functions as well as others. How well your skin protects you from skin cancer and photoaging is largerly determined by which types of melanin you produce. As such, some people are at significantly greater risk than others with respect to the development of skin cancer.

There are several genes in your body which regulate the synthesis of melanin. One of these genes is called MC1R and it has been studied a great deal around the world. Some forms of the gene are associated with higher levels of skin cancer. While it has long been known that people with red hair or had ancestors with red hair are at greater risk of developing skin cancer, individuals with these genetic markers from the MC1R gene are at elevated risk regardless of their skin or hair colour.

You can now be easily tested using only a cotton swab to determine if you have these genetic markers. This can only be done at your doctorís office; usually a dermatologist.

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