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Science Olympiad» Disease Detectives Event » National Event Exercises
Skin Cancer Module: Practice Exercises



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Skin Cancer Home
Module 8: A Diversity of Skin Types
Module 10: Skin Cancers
Skin Cancer Glossary
   

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Objective
Identifying Skin Type by Sun History
Skin Type and Ethnic Background
Over-Exposure Is Dangerous Even Without Burning

Module 9: Know Your Skin Type

Objective: Understand different skin types as they relate to the chances of getting skin cancer.

There are six skin types. They are not based on skin color. Instead, they are based on the way one's skin reacts to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Find your skin type by checking your Sun History.

Identifying Skin Type by Sun History

The chart below describes how different skin types react to the sun.

Skin Type Sun History
I

always burns, never tans; extremely sun-sensitive

II

burns easily, then tans a little; very sun-sensitive

III

sometimes burns, then tans slowly; sun-sensitive

IV

burns a little, always tans

V

rarely burns, tans well; fairly insensitive to sun

VI

never burns, deeply colored; insensitive to sun

Generally, the more sun-sensitive your skin is, the higher your risk of skin cancer.

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Skin Type and Ethnic Background

Certain skin types often go with certain ethnic backgrounds and skin colors. For example, many people of Irish or Welsh background are skin type I or II. This is especially true if they have fair skin, red or blond hair, and light eyes. And many people of African ancestry are skin types V and VI. But you can have dark skin and still be sun-sensitive.

In a recent survey, 15 percent of African-Americans surveyed said they had a tendency to sunburn. These people may be at a higher risk for skin cancer than other African-Americans who have a less sun-sensitive skin type.

Over-Exposure Is Dangerous Even Without Burning

No matter what your skin type, you don't have to get a sunburn to have skin damage from the sun. Some types of skin cancer can develop from long-term sun exposure without burning. Also, exposure to UV rays (especially UVA) can cause premature aging of skin.

You will learn more about the epidemiology of skin cancer later.

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This page last reviewed April 24, 2007

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