What Areas of the Body Are Most Prone to Skin Cancer?

Man applying sunscreen to his shoulder What Areas of the Body Are Most Prone to Skin Cancer?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, whether from sunlight or tanning beds, remains the most prominent of all skin cancer risk factors. While skin cancer can technically occur anywhere on the skin, certain areas are more at risk than others, namely those that are more regularly exposed to UV rays. Let’s discuss which areas of your body are most prone to different types of skin cancer so you can be extra cautious when having fun in the sun.

Where Are You Most Likely to Get Skin Cancer?

Facial Areas

No part of your body is more frequently exposed to the sun than your face and its various features like your nose, lips, eyelids, etc. Even when you’re bundled up outdoors, odds are that portions of your face and ears receive more sunlight than any other part of your body. With that in mind, your face is a prime target for skin cancer, namely in the form of squamous and basal cell carcinomas, which are fortunately highly curable when caught early.

Top of the Head

Even if you’ve got plenty of hair on your head, your scalp is another area that takes on a lot of sunlight (if you’re not wearing a hat, that is). Of course, those without a head of hair are at even greater risk of non-melanoma skin cancer since they lack a natural buffer between the sun and the skin. Being bald isn’t all that bad, though, as a lack of hair actually makes it easier to identify melanoma skin cancer (hair can cover up moles and other warning signs).

Back of the Neck

Unless you regularly wear a neck brace or you’re really fond of turtleneck sweaters, your neck (the back of it, especially) is another part of your body that’s often exposed to sunlight. The data shows that about one-third of melanoma skin cancers show up either on the head or neck, and non-melanoma skin cancers are even more common on these parts of the skin. When applying sunscreen, make sure you get your entire neck and have someone help you if you can’t easily reach behind you.

Backs of Hands

We use our bare hands for a wide variety of tasks, so it’s no wonder that these areas of the body are on this list too. Indeed, if skin cancer occurs on the backs of one’s hands, it’s often in the form of squamous cell carcinoma. These tumors can resemble other skin issues, so you might not pay much attention to them. However, if the problem won’t go away, it could be a sign of skin cancer, and it’s important to see your dermatologist to run tests.

Along the Legs

Plenty of people enjoy showing off their legs when the weather gets warm. It makes sense, then, that melanoma most often forms on the legs (especially in women).

Back and Chest

While legs are the primary spots for melanoma in women, this title goes to the back and chest (i.e., the trunk area) in men. Of course, women are also at risk of experiencing skin cancer in these areas. While keeping tabs on one’s front side isn’t too challenging, it’s not always easy to monitor your back. So, check your back for moles in the mirror on a regular basis and/or have someone you trust watch your back (literally) for any changes or more visible signs of skin cancer.

Palms, Foot Soles, and Nail Beds

Though not as prone to skin cancer as the aforementioned areas, the palms of hands, soles of feet, and nail beds can also harbor melanoma, especially in those with darker skin. In fact, approximately half of all melanoma cases in African Americans occur in one of these areas.

Simply put, the parts of your body that are most frequently exposed to sunlight or UV radiation more broadly are those that are most at risk for skin cancer development. And in most people, these areas happen to be the face, scalp, neck, hands, legs, chest, back, and for some, palms, soles, and nail beds. Regardless, skin cancer can show up anywhere, which is why it’s crucial to keep an eye on your skin, know the warning signs so you can detect a problem early on, and receive an annual (or more frequent) skin cancer screening from a professional dermatologist. Additionally, take steps toward skin cancer prevention each and every day by wearing sunscreen (30+ SPF), covering up with loose clothing when outdoors, seeking shade, avoiding tanning booths, and more.


The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can give you more information on skin cancer and sun safety as well as set you up for a seasonal skin cancer screening. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.

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