Dermatologic Surgery : Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCCs) show up most commonly as shiny pearly bumps on sun-exposed areas of the skin. They can also appear as non-healing red or pink spots that are flat or raised. They can bleed or cause irritation. Some basal cells can even have color or pigment in them appearing brown or dark like a melanoma. There are close to 1 million cases in the United States every year. The scalp, face, ears, and arms are the most frequent sites of involvement as the sun is thought to play an important role in causing these types of cancer. Thankfully, these usually stay localized in the area where they start but they can rarely spread to other areas of the body. I have personally seen a case of basal cell that involved the entire upper back of a person who let it go over 10 years without seeing their doctor. The most dangerous areas to get a basal cell are near the eyes, ears, or nose where there can be a lot of damage and disfigurement if not caught early. BCCs are more common in older patients but I have seen them in patients as young as ten years old (this is very rare). There is also a genetic syndrome known as basal cell nevus syndrome where patients can get over a hundred or more BCCs over their lifetime. If you have had a BCC, I recommend being checked every 6 months by your dermatologist.

More information is available at the Skin Cancer Foundation - Basal Cell Carcinoma.

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