After being diagnosed with skin cancer, most patients are worried about their own prognosis for the future. However, when you're a parent, you also face the added worry of whether your children will befall the same fate. Here's all you need to know about whether your children are at risk of getting skin cancer if you have it, and how you can protect them for the future.
Is Skin Cancer Genetic?
Generally, skin cancer comes as a result of too much exposure to the sun rather than any hereditary factor. However, some families do have genetic mutations that make them more likely to get skin cancer. If multiple people in your family have been diagnosed with skin cancer, you may want to have your children tested for these genes. Melanoma susceptibility, for example, is linked to two genes called CDKN2A and CDK4. Remember that even if your child has a genetic predisposition to skin cancer, they may still be able to avoid it by taking care of their skin in the sun.
How Else Does Family Play a Role?
Genes aren't the only skin cancer risk factor you can pass down to your children. A more common cause of family-wide skin cancer is learned behaviours that lead to skin damage. If you, for example, enjoy tanning in the sun, your children may have learned to enjoy it too. It's important that you teach your children how to be safe in the sun from the earliest age, and try to get the older members of your family to set a good example.
How Can You Protect Your Child's Skin?
Thankfully, there are many ways to protect your child's skin from the harmful UV rays the sun emits. Firstly, make sure your child always uses sun cream when they're out in the sun. You should also ensure that their wardrobe includes lots of clothing that covers their arms and legs; opt for darker, heavier fabrics where possible as these have better sun protection. Don't forget that hats and sunglasses are important too, as well as closed shoes. Try to also keep your child out of the sun when it's at its highest point, and discourage them from purposely tanning or staying out too long. Alongside lifestyle changes, make sure you're registered at a skin clinic that can treat your whole family. Regular skin checks for your children will spot any signs of cancer early enough to treat them.