Sun spots are caused by exposure to the sun. As people age and their skin's ability to protect itself from the sun's UV rays is diminished, sun spots become more common. Although sun spots have rarely been found to be cancerous, getting screened for skin cancer is strongly encouraged for patients with sun spots.

Sun Spot Appearance and Location

sMost sun spots appear as flat brown or tan marks on the skin. They are most common on areas exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, chest, arms and the back of the hands. Sun spots are less common on the inner thigh, buttock and the bottom of the feet, as these areas are rarely exposed to the sun.

Sun Spots and Skin Cancer

Many patients inquire about the relationship between sun spots and skin cancer. Some believe that sun spots are a sign of skin cancer. While some sun spots may be cancerous, they are not considered a sign of skin cancer. However, new skin growths, changes to existing skin growths or sores that do not heal are considered possible signs of skin cancer. As sun spots are new growths on the skin, they should always be checked for skin cancer. Sun spots may also point to an increased risk of skin cancer, as they, like skin cancer, are caused by exposure to the sun. The darker pigmentation absorbs more sunlight than the lighter skin, which may also lead to an increased risk. Patients with sun spots should consult a dermatologist or physician to diagnose sun spots and screen for skin cancer. Upon diagnosis of benign sun spots, patients may turn to a number of skincare professionals for treatment.