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Basal Cell Carcinoma

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An estimated 2.8 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed every year. It’s extremely rare for basal cell carcinoma to spread to other parts of the body, and it’s rarely life threatening.

What is basal cell carcinoma?

This slow-growing form of skin cancer is the most common skin cancer in the United States and occurs when abnormal basal cells grow uncontrollably to create a growth or lesion.

Who develops basal cell carcinoma?

It grows on areas of the body that are regularly exposed to sunlight, like the head, upper body and hands. Therefore, anyone with a history of regular sun exposure is at risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. You’re at increased risk if you:

  • have fair skin
  • have many moles
  • had many severe sunburns when you were young
  • had many X-rays
  • worked outdoors for long periods of time in the sun

What are the symptoms of basal cell carcinoma?

Symptoms include:

  • a sore that won’t heal
  • a shiny, scar-like area that appears randomly
  • a red patch of irritated skin
  • a waxy bump that looks like a mole
  • a pink growth with an indent in the center

How is basal cell carcinoma diagnosed?

A doctor will evaluate the growth or area and take a biopsy of the growth to determine if it’s cancerous.

How is basal cell carcinoma treated?

Treatment for basal cell carcinoma depends on the severity of the growth or cancer and may include:

  • cutting out or removing the growth and a thin portion of the area around it
  • removing the cancerous cells and using electricity to burn and kill the cells around it
  • medications, like a medicated skin cream
  • light therapy
  • freezing the growth to kill cancerous cells
  • radiation using X-ray

To learn more about cancer services at The Daniel and Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center, call 201-634-5339.

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