The cases of 76 patients with chronic radiation dermatitis resulting from low-dose ionizing radiation for benign disease were reviewed retrospectively for the risk factors leading to the development of neoplasia. The patients were studied with respect to original hair color, eye color, sun reactive skin type, benign disease treated, area treated, age at treatment, and age at development of first skin cancer. Analysis of data showed 37% of patients had sun-reactive skin type I, 27% had type II, and 36% had type III. Types IV through VI were not represented. There appeared to be an overrepresentation of types I and II. Increased melanin pigmentation may therefore be either directly or indirectly protective against the development of skin cancers in patients who have received low-dose superficial ionizing radiation for benign disease. The sun-reactive skin type of patients with chronic radiation dermatitis may be used as a predictor of skin cancer risk when the total dose of ionizing radiation is not known.
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