Sunlight and the onset of skin cancer

Trends Genet. 1997 Oct;13(10):410-4. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(97)01246-8.


The photons of sunlight precipitate a series of genetic events in skin leading to cancer. These events involve somatic mutations as well as inherited alleles. Competition between cell populations ensues, as a single mutated cell expands into a clone. Thus cancer involves both a single-cell problem and a many-cell problem; in skin cancer, sunlight appears to drive both.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Genes, p53
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects