Cancer answers: What is basal cell carcinoma?

Written by Community Health Network on 5/29/2014 7:00:00 AM

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer.

"Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer we diagnose in Indiana,” said Dr. Priya Young, dermatologist. "Nationwide, this cancer accounts for about 80 percent of cases."

It usually forms on skin that has been exposed to the sun for many years. Common places that basal cell develops include the head, neck, back of the hands and face, especially the nose.

It grows slowly over time and seldom spreads, but can destroy tissue and bone around it if not treated. It is the easiest skin cancer to treat and has a high cure rate when found and treated early.

According to, there are five warning signs of basal cell carcinoma tumors to look for: 

  • Open sore that doesn’t heal or that heals and bleeds or oozes frequently.
  • Reddish patch or area on face, chest, shoulders, arms, or legs that may crust or itch.
  • A shiny, waxy bump or nodule that shows blood vessels (often pink, red, pearly white or skin-colored); may be tan, brown or black in dark-haired individuals.
  • A pink growth with raised border and crust in the center; blood vessels may appear in it.
  • Scar-like area on the skin that looks taut and shiny and is white, yellow or waxy; borders may be poorly defined.
How is basal cell carcinoma treated?
Visit our website for more information or submit a question to one of our cancer experts.

Tags: basal cell carcinoma | Posted in: Skin Cancer

Appointments available!

To make an appointment with an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician at Community, call 800-777-7775 today!

Community first healthcare organization in the nation to be certified by MD Anderson Cancer Network®

Community Health Network is the first healthcare organization to achieve system-wide recognition by MD Anderson Cancer Network® as a certified member. The five hospital locations providing qualified cancer services in the network have met the rigorous standards to treat cancer patients with MD Anderson evidence-based guidelines and best practices. Learn more.