Basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, is the most common form of skin cancer worldwide with approximately a million new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. BCCs are malignant growths occurring in the skin’s deepest layer, or basal cell line. BCC tends to grow slowly. It is also rare for BCC to spread to other parts of the body. However, if not treated, BCC grows into surrounding areas, destroying tissue and bone beneath the skin, which can potentially cause scars and disfigurement.
Sunlight accounts for over 90 percent of all skin cancer cases. People who work outdoors, or who spend their leisure hours in the sun, have an increased risk for developing BCC, however, about a third of BCC cases occur in non-sun exposed areas. People with fair skin, light hair, light eyes and sunburn easily are at a higher risk for developing BCC. If you have already had a BCC or another type of skin cancer, you will have a greater risk for BCC as well. Since the majority of cases are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, we strongly recommend proper sun protection as a preventive measure.
Basal cell carcinoma most often appears on sun-exposed areas such as the face, scalp, back, legs, ears and chest and presents as a firm pink nodule or dome. Usually there is a “pearly white” or translucent finish to it or the cancer may be brown in people with skin of color. Any pink growth with a slightly elevated rolled border might be an indication of early BCC and should be checked. An open sore that bleeds, oozes or crusts and remains open for weeks should be checked. Any pimple-like form, reddish patch or scar-like area (white, yellow or waxy) that tends to heal and re-occur over a period of weeks should also be checked for potential BCC.
We strongly recommend annual total body skin exam by Dr. Ned Gross. The exam takes minutes to complete and is an essential step in early intervention against BCC and other skin cancers.
BCC is highly treatable if detected early. Surgical excision using local anesthesia is the most common form of treatment. Other types include topical chemotherapy, X-ray, cryosurgery , electrodesiccation and curettage (ED&C) or photodynamic therapy. Dr. Gross will discuss the various treatment options with you depending on what best suits your health needs.
This information does not replace the advice of a physician nor does it imply a physican – patient relationship between the reader and Dr. Gross.