Is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) The Most Common Skin Cancer?

Yes. It is responsible for 90% of the skin cancer in the united states. Good news: They don’t normally spread to other parts of the body. Bad news: it can damage the tissue around the cancer.

Reasons for developing BCC:

People with fair skin, sun exposure, age. Most of the time the cancer occurs in the area exposed to the sun but in rare cases (20%), they can happen in areas we wouldn’t think (chest, back, scalp). However, the majority BCC occurs on the face.

  • Sun Exposure: According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main reason most individuals get skin cancer. Obviously, the more you are in the sun, the increase of skin cancer rises. Tanning booths also increase the chance of BCC.

    Note* Some individuals believe that if you have small doses of sun each day without sunblock it can decrease the chance of cancer if your body begins to slowly tolerate the UV. This reasoning comes from the notion that people do not sun tan during most of the year, then spend hours at a time tanning. The skin needs to build up a “tolerance” to UV rays but if done slowly it will not produce a cancer cell.

  • Age: Your risk increases after the age of 50. Protection from the sun should be practiced from childhood to adulthood.
  • If receiving radiation for cancer, you may also be at risk.

What does a BCC look like?

There are tons of pictures online so you may want to check them out. It usually begins small with a dome shape bump. Blood vessels can be seen. It appears to be shiny or “pearly”, but at times it may look dark. Sometimes it may seem like a mole so it may be necessary to get a biopsy to determine if it is BCC. The texture of such a spot is often shiny and translucent, sometimes referred to as “pearly.”

They grow at a slow pace (months or years).

Treatment:

Good News: There is a very high success rate (90% or more). Removal of the carcinoma is necessary and in most cases there is very little scarring.

Tips on how to decrease your risk:

  • limiting sun exposure and tanning beds
  • avoiding unprotected exposure to the sun during peak radiation times (noon)
  • Hat protection
  • Waterproof or water resistant sunscreen with UVA protection and SPF 30 or higher
  • Visiting a dermatologist if you have a skin discoloration that changes shape or color

With the hot weather approaching, be careful and take care of yourself. Drink lots of water too!