Skin Cancer

How Do UV Rays Cause Skin Cancer?

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 23/08/13

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the NZ. The two most common forms of cancer, basal and squamous cell carcinomas are curable and can be treated by medical professionals when they are caught early. The third and most dangerous type of skin cancer, commonly referred to as melanoma, is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light coming from the rays of the sun. Understand how different types of ultraviolet light can penetrate the skin and turn healthy skin cells into cancerous melanoma skin cells.


Ultraviolet light is an invisible type of radiation that is emitted from the rays of the sun and other types of man-made light. There are three different types of UV light. Each type of UV light is absorbed in a different way and can affect the skin cells differently. UVA- UVA is the most common type of ultraviolet light and the most damaging form of radiation. UVA comes from the sun and can penetrate through the top layer of the skin designed to protect skin cells. UVA rays are known to damage connective tissues in the skin and they will increase an individual’s risk of suffering from skin cancer if the individual does not protect their skin regularly. UVB- UVB rays are less of a concern because most of these rays are absorbed by the ozone layer around the earth. The remaining UVB rays that do reach the earth’s surface do not penetrate deep into the layer of the skin. UVC- UVC radiation is very damaging. All UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone layer so this type of radiation is not damaging to humans.


Skin cancer is caused by exposure to UVA and UVB rays. If you want to decrease your chances of developing skin cancer, you should protect your skin between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Wear protective clothing, sunscreen, hats with brims, and seek out shade whenever you need to be out during daytime hours. If you have a naturally light complexion, you are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. Proactively protect yourself against UV rays and seek treatment immediately if you believe you have skin cancer.