Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Over time, the cells can form into a growth or tumor. The growths invade and take over nearby tissue. The reason why this happens is not known. Genetics and the environment may play a role.
This problem is more common in people who are fair-skinned. Other things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Having skin that is damaged due to scars, burns, or skin diseases
sunburns, freckling, or long periods of sun exposure
A personal or family history of skin cancer
Frequent use of tanning beds
Treatment that suppresses the immune system, such as having an organ transplant
Certain rare genetic disorders, such as Gorlin syndrome
Problems vary from person to person. Common ones are:
A sore that may crust, bleed, or ooze for more than 3 weeks without healing
A raised, red patch that may be itchy
A shiny bump that may look pearl-like or dark in color, like a mole
A pink growth with a slightly raised border and dip in the middle
A patch of skin that seems shiny and tight, much like a scar
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your skin.
may be taken to look for signs of cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/cancers-of-the-skin/basal-cell-carcinoma. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Basal cell carcinoma of the skin. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/basal-cell-carcinoma-of-the-skin. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Cameron MC, Lee E, et al. Basal cell carcinoma: Epidemiology; pathophysiology; clinical and histological subtypes; and disease associations. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019 Feb;80(2):303-317.
Skin cancer types: basal cell carcinoma overview. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/basal-cell-carcinoma. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed November 24, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 4/20/2021
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