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Basal cell carcinoma

Worried or just curious about a mole or skin spot? Call 800-777-7775 today to make an appointment for a skin cancer screening.

Basal cell carcinoma on forearm

Basal cell carcinoma on forearm

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer. It most often 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. BCC grows slowly over time and seldom spreads, but can destroy tissue and bone around it if not treated. BCC is the easiest skin cancer to treat and has a high cure rate when found and treated early.

According to SkinCancer.org, 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.

BCC may itch or be painful, but that is rare.

Risk factors for basal cell carcinoma

As with other skin cancers, the risk of getting BCC is greater if your skin has been exposed to the sun without protection over a long period of time. It is well known that BCC is caused by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds1, particularly in women over 50 and younger women who have a long history of tanning bed use. UV rays destroy DNA in skin cells and skin cancer forms when the body tries to repair this damage.

Here are other risk factors for basal cell carcinoma:

  • Light-colored or freckled skin
  • Blond or red hair
  • Light-colored eyes (blue, green, gray)
  • Inability to tan
  • Over age 50
  • Frequent use of indoor tanning beds or sunlamps
  • A history of outdoor activities (work or leisure) in which skin has not been properly protected from UV rays
  • Medical history that includes basal cell carcinoma in you or a relative, taking immune suppressive drugs, and overexposure to x-rays.

1: Basal cell carcinoma: Who gets and causes - AAD.org

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