Although we typically blame most skin cancers on excessive sun exposure, not every individual who has sun exposure will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. As a practicing Los Angeles plastic surgeon, I preach to my patients about the importance of sunscreen when it comes to protecting their skin. However, there are several known inherited conditions that are known to clearly predispose people to skin malignancies:
1) Xeroderma pigmentosum: This rare disorder causes people to have an acute sensitivity to sunlight. Because these patients have a defective repair mechanism for damaged DNA (as can occur with sun light), they tend to develop multiple epitheliomas which can turn into skin cancers.
2) Gorlin Syndrome: Also known as Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome, these patients have a propensity toward growing basal cell cancers in all locations on their skin.
3) Albinism: In this condition, patients have hypopigmentation of their skin, hair and eyes. Lacking these pigments places these patients at very high risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
4) Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis: This rare immunity disorder allows human papilloma virus (HPV) to induce numerous verrucous lesions to form (i.e. warts) that have a high propensity to turn into squamous cell carcinoma.
5) Muir-Torre Syndrome: This disorder results in the formation of several different internal malignancies as well as keratoacanthoma, sebaceous proliferation, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
6) Baze-Dupre-Chirstol Syndrome: This rare X-linked disorder presents with light hair growth/hair loss, basal cell nevi and basal cell carcinomas.
7) Porokeratosis: This disorder results in an abnormal outer keratin layer of the skin, which can degenerate into squamous cell cancer.