Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a type of skin cancer, is the most common cancer in the US. More than 4 million cases are diagnosed in the US each year. Although basal cell carcinomas rarely metastasize, they can be locally destructive. The lesion enlarges slowly over time and sometimes spontaneously bleeds or ulcerates. There are many clinical and histological subtypes of basal cell carcinomas. Treatment may vary depending on the subtype.
Did you know…
that although it is more prevalent in persons with fair-skin, basal cell carcinoma can also occur in persons with skin of color? Therefore, in addition to Caucasians, Asians and Hispanics with high levels of sun-exposure are at higher risk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I at risk for basal cell carcinoma?
Male and female patients are at equal risk for basal cell carcinoma. Although fair-skin persons who are middle-aged or elderly have the highest risk, anyone of any ethnic background and even young persons can develop cancer. Intermittent intense sun exposure, family or personal history of skin cancer, radiation exposure, and immunosuppression are all additional risk factors.
How is a basal cell carcinoma diagnosed?
Most basal cell carcinomas are diagnosed through a routine skin check. The diagnosis is then confirmed with a skin biopsy.
When should I seek medical care?
Early diagnosis of BCCs is important to avoid extensive surgical procedures for removal, thus routine skin checks are recommended. Additionally, if you develop a new lesion that bleeds easily or does not heal, you should make an appointment with a dermatologist.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment options depend on the subtype of cancer, the location, and the depth of invasion. Some lesions can be treated with cryotherapy, curettage and electrodesiccation, or a topical cream. Most BCCs will require surgical excision. Rarely, targeted chemotherapy or radiation can also be used.