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What Basal Cell Carcinoma Looks Like

What Causes Basal Cell Carcinomas

I HAVE SKIN CANCER | Basal Cell Carcinoma | signs, what it looks like, biopsy, treatment plan

The main cause of damage leading to BCC is sun exposure. This is usually a combination of:

  • long-term, everyday sun exposure, and
  • occasional intense exposure, usually leading to sunburn.

In some cases, they are the result of damage caused by things such as burns, scars, infections, vaccinations or tattoos.

Prevention Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Because basal cell carcinoma is often caused by sun exposure, people can help prevent this cancer by doing the following:

  • Avoiding the sun: For example, seeking shade, minimizing outdoor activities between 10 AM and 4 PM , and avoiding sunbathing and the use of tanning beds

  • Wearing protective clothing: For example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and broad-brimmed hats

  • Using sunscreen: At least sun protection factor 30 with UVA and UVB protection used as directed and reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating but not used to prolong sun exposure

In addition, any skin change that lasts for more than a few weeks should be evaluated by a doctor.

Would You Know A Basal Cell Carcinoma If You Saw One On Yourself Or Someone Else

According to the american cancer society, just over 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the united states each year. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the united states by a pretty large margin, and it does not discriminate. What about an actinic keratosis, a dysplastic nevus, or a s. See before and after photos of patients who have undergone reconstructive plastic surgery after skin cancer removal . Skin keratosis, also known as seborrheic keratosis, are harmless, noncancerous growths that appear on the face, neck, shoulders. Would you know a skin cancer mole if you saw one? Helen massy, bsc, is a freelance medical and health writer with over a decade of experience working in the uk. Can you spots the signs? Acne medications are full of harsh chemicals that do more harm than good. Improve the overall quality of your skin with these simple. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small. It affects people of all races, genders and ages, which is why it’s absolutely critical for americans to learn about. The strongest risk factor for developing skin cancer is ultraviolet ray exposure, typically from the sun.

See before and after photos of patients who have undergone reconstructive plastic surgery after skin cancer removal skin cancer looks like pimple. Skin keratosis, also known as seborrheic keratosis, are harmless, noncancerous growths that appear on the face, neck, shoulders.

Also Check: What Is Skin Cancer Caused By

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe

If your physician suspects a basal cell carcinoma, he or she will first want to establish the correct diagnosis by performing a biopsy of the lesion. The procedure involves:

  • Numbing the skin with an injectable anesthetic.
  • Sampling a small piece of skin by using a flexible razor blade, a scalpel, or a tiny cookie cutter . If a punch biopsy is taken, stitches may be placed and will need to be removed 6â14 days later.
  • Having the skin sample examined under the microscope by a specially trained physician .
  • Nodular basal cell carcinomas:Infiltrating or morpheaform basal cell carcinomas:

    • Excision â The basal cell carcinoma is cut out with a scalpel, and sutures are usually placed to bring the wound edges together.
    • Mohs micrographic surgery â In this technique, the physician takes tiny slivers of skin from the cancer site until it is completely removed. This technique is particularly useful for basal cell carcinomas located on the nose, the ears, and the lips.
    • Radiation treatment â X-ray therapy is often useful for patients who are not good surgical candidates because of other health issues.

    Superficial basal cell carcinomas:

    How Dangerous Is A Basal Cell Carcinoma

    What Does Basal Cell Cancer Look Like

    While melanoma rightly deserves the attention it receives as the most dangerous form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma isnt something to brush off as harmless. Yes, this most common form of skin cancer rarely causes fatalities, but it can become quite disfiguring.

    While basal cell carcinoma lesions rarely spread beyond the original tumor site, they should not be allowed to grow freely. These lesions can grow widely, penetrating deeply into the skin destroying skin, tissue, and bone. Plus, the longer you leave a basal cell carcinoma untreated, the more likely it is to come back. And because it will usually return in the same area, this can create problems removing the lesions without overly disfiguring the patient.

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    Risk Factors For Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Anyone with a history of sun exposure can develop basal cell carcinoma. The disease is rarely seen in children, but occasionally a teenager is affected.

    Men with BCC have outnumbered women with the disease, but more women are getting BCCs than in the past.

    Workers in occupations that require long hours outside and people who spend a lot of time in the sun are particularly susceptible.

    People who are at highest risk have fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue, green, or grey eyes.

    Also Check: How To Identify Basal Cell Carcinoma

    What This Form Of Skin Cancer Can Look Like

    Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It originates in basal cells, which are located in the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin, that are responsible for producing new skin cells and pushing them to the surface. Due to the location of these cells, BCC typically develops on areas of skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight and other forms of ultraviolet radiation.

    BCC tends to grow slowly and develop on sun-exposed areas such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, shoulders, and back. The lesions commonly appear as painless, raised nodules, often shiny with tiny blood vessels running through them.

    Even so, BCC can vary in its size and appearance and may develop on parts of the body that are not sun-exposed. By recognizing the different manifestations of BCC, you may be able to spot them early and seek immediate treatment.

    The early diagnosis and treatment of BCC is associated with a disease-free cure rate of between 85 and 95%.

    This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

    SkarmoutsosV / Wikimedia Commons

    Nodular basal cell carcinoma is one of the three main subtypes of BCC. It appears as a small, dome-shaped nodule populated by tiny branch-like blood vessels .

    This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

    Skin Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

    Also Check: Can You Live With Skin Cancer

    Each Type Of Skin Cancer Looks A Little Different

    According to Dr. Wofford, Most people think of melanoma, which typically looks like a dark spot on the skin, but actually, there are many different types of skin cancer. Each type looks a little different, so in addition to understanding how to tell the difference between benign skin spots and cancerous lesions, it may be beneficial to learn a little more about the appearance of each type of skin cancer.

    Can Skin Cancer Look Like A Mole

    Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Dr. Wofford says, Another common question we get is about whether cancer can look like a mole, and the answer to this one is yes as well. The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma, may initially look like a new mole or freckle or may develop within an existing dark spot. Anytime you notice changes in existing moles or freckles, you should have a dermatologist examine the lesion, especially if the spot grows or changes quickly.

    Also Check: How Do You Know If Squamous Cell Carcinoma Has Spread

    Basal Cell Carcinomas Topical Treatment

    Topical treatments can be successful on superficial basal cell carcinomas with little depth. These drugs work by inflaming the area where they are applied. The body responds by sending white blood cells to attack the inflammation. These white blood cells go after the mutated basal cells. Aldara, Efudex, and Fluoroplex are three of the most used drugs.

    Normal Vs Abnormal Spots What To Look For

    While all types of skin cancer may resemble benign skin lesions, there are some warning signs that will help you determine whether or not you should be concerned. According to Dr. Wofford, The key is to pay attention and check your skin consistently. Early detection is important, and the best way to ensure you catch skin cancer in the earliest stages is to perform regular skin exams at home. If you check your skin every month, youll be more likely to notice changes.

    During your skin health self-exams at home, you should carefully look at all areas of your skin, including the scalp, fingernail and toenail beds, and other difficult to see areas. As you examine your skin, take special note of any spots that have the following characteristics of skin cancer. These warning signs are what a dermatologist will typically refer to as the ABCDEs:

    Also Check: How Quickly Can Melanoma Appear

    What Basal Cell Carcinoma Looks Like


    Im interrupting the regular scheduled programming here on Middle Aged Mama, to give you an important health reminder.

    Yesterday I had a skin cancer cut out of my nose most likely a Basal Cell Carcinoma although we will have to wait for the pathology results next week for that to be confirmed.

    Minor Genes For Melanoma

    Basal cell carcinoma


    The MC1R gene, otherwise known as the alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor, is located on chromosome 8. Partial loss-of-function pathogenic variants, of which there are at least ten, are associated not only with red hair, fair skin, and poor tanning, but also with increased skin cancer risk independent of cutaneous pigmentation. A comprehensive meta-analysis of more than 8,000 cases and 50,000 controls showed the highest risk of melanoma in individuals with MC1R variants associated with red hair however, alleles not associated with red hair have also been linked to increased melanoma risk. Additional phenotypic associations have been found. In different studies, MC1R variants were found to be associated with lentigo maligna melanoma and increased risk of melanoma for individuals with no red hair, no freckles, and Fitzpatrick type III or IV skin . Pooled studies of 5,160 cases and 12,119 controls from 17 sites calculated that melanoma risk attributable to MC1R variants is 28%, suggesting that these variants may be an important contributor to melanoma risk in the general population.

    Other pigmentary genes

    Pathogenic variants in albinism genes may also account for a small proportion of familial melanoma. For example, variants in TYRP1, TYR, and OCA2 were observed at an increased frequency in one study of individuals with familial cutaneous melanoma compared with population controls. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.


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    More Pictures Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

    While the above pictures show you some common ways that BCC can appear on the skin, this skin cancer can show up in other ways, as the following pictures illustrate.

    Scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center

    On the trunk, BCC may look like a scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center and a slightly raised border, as shown here.

    Basal cell carcinoma can be lighter in some areas and darker in others

    While BCC tends to be one color, it can be lighter in some areas and darker in others, as shown here.

    Basal cell carcinoma can be brown in color

    Most BCCs are red or pink however, this skin cancer can be brown, as shown here.

    Basal cell carcinoma can look like a group of shiny bumps

    BCC can look like a group of small, shiny bumps that feel smooth to the touch.

    Basal cell carcinoma can look like a wart or a sore

    The BCC on this patients lower eyelid looks like a wart* in one area and a sore** in another area.

    If you see a spot or growth on your skin that looks like any of the above or one that is growing or changing in any way, see a board-certified dermatologist.

    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal cell carcinomas can appear anywhere on the body but the most common sites are sun exposed areas such as the face and arms. Its important to keep a close eye on your skin to try and identify early basal cell carcinoma, as its easier to treat if identified early on.

    Typical Basal cell carcinoma symptoms are:

    • New skin lesion
    • Change in colour of a lesion

    The typical lesions to watch out for are as follows:

    • Pink or translucent, shiny bumps or pearly nodules, sometimes with dark spots or black, blue, or brown surface
    • Growths, pink in color, with raised edges and sunken center, usually with irregular blood spoke-wheel vessels on its surface
    • Pale or yellow scar-like areas
    • Elevated reddish patches
    • Oozing, crusted, scaly and open sores that dont heal over time

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    Cancerous: Basal Cell Carcinoma

    What it is: Basal cell carcinomas are usually found on sun-exposed areas, such as the face and neck. They also tend to grow so slowly that they rarely cause any harm.

    What it looks like: According to Dr. Rosen, basal cells look like a raised bump on the skin or a red scaly patch that doesnt go away. How its treated: Some basal cell carcinomas can be treated with a cream thats applied daily for several weeks, while others are below the surface and need to be surgically removed. Basal cell carcinoma is really curable, says Dr. Rosen, but it can leave you with a scar that can be quite noticeable.

    What Is The Treatment For Primary Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Skin Cancer

    The treatment for a BCC depends on its type, size and location, the number to be treated, patient factors, and the preference or expertise of the doctor. Most BCCs are treated surgically. Long-term follow-up is recommended to check for new lesions and recurrence the latter may be unnecessary if histology has reported wide clear margins.

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    Basal Cell Carcinoma Causes And Prevention

    Several causes for basal cell carcinoma have been identified. BCC can, however, arise without any of these. They start with a single cell that becomes abnormal due to damage to its DNA. These cells then multiply, and as abnormal cells build-up, the skin lesion becomes visible.4

    Basal cell carcinoma risk factors include: 5

    • Ultraviolet lightUV light from sunshine and commercial tanning beds can both cause damage to cells mentioned, ultimately resulting in abnormal skin lesions. More sun exposure from warm climates, excess suntanning and excess use of tanning beds all make BCC more likely. Severe sunburn can also be a factor.
    • Fair skinFair skin is a risk factor as there is less protection for the deeper skin layers from melanin.
    • AgeAs detailed, BCC starts with damage to cells and as we get more damage over time, increasing age is a significant factor.
    • Medical treatmentRadiotherapy for other medical conditions and immunosuppressants drugs can increase the risks of basal carcinoma and must be taken into account when assessing skin lesions.

    For more details of risks factors, see this article.

    Basal cell carcinoma prevention

    Avoiding or minimising these risk factors is the mainstay of basal cell carcinoma prevention. The most important preventable factor is sun exposure.

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Situ

    This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

    DermNet NZ

    Squamous cell carcinoma in situ, also known as Bowens disease, is a precancerous condition that appears as a red or brownish patch or plaque on the skin that grows slowly over time. The patches are often found on the legs and lower parts of the body, as well as the head and neck. In rare cases, it has been found on the hands and feet, in the genital area, and in the area around the anus.

    Bowens disease is uncommon: only 15 out of every 100,000 people will develop this condition every year. The condition typically affects the Caucasian population, but women are more likely to develop Bowens disease than men. The majority of cases are in adults over 60. As with other skin cancers, Bowens disease can develop after long-term exposure to the sun. It can also develop following radiotherapy treatment. Other causes include immune suppression, skin injury, inflammatory skin conditions, and a human papillomavirus infection.

    Bowens disease is generally treatable and doesnt develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Up to 16% of cases develop into cancer.

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    How Successful Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment

    Mohs micrographic surgery has the best cure rates with basal cell carcinoma, a 99 percent cure rate for carcinomas that are not returning growths. The cure rate when basal cell carcinomas are removed with wide excision can be as high as 98 percent. With curettage and electrodesiccation, the rate is from 91 to 97 percent.

    Basal cell carcinoma is not considered life-threatening in almost all cases. It is simply disfiguring.

    More Information About Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal cell carcinoma

    The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

    See the following sites for comprehensive information about basal cell carcinoma, including detection, prevention, treatment options, and other resources:

    Also Check: What Are The Symptoms Of Melanoma Skin Cancer

    Lump With Small Depression

    Some basal cell carcinoma lesions have small indentations in the center, similar to a canker sore. These depressions in the skin may weep and crust. The temptation to pick at a sore is normal, but it is important not to disrupt these growths and to see a doctor if they appear to grow or spread or do not heal promptly.

    Basal Cell Carcinoma Faqs

    Read our dermatologists answers to frequently asked questions about basal cell carcinoma below, and contact us to schedule your annual skin cancer screening.

    • Laser surgery
    • Topical medications

    To learn more about the different treatment options we offer for basal cell carcinoma at the Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington, please get in touch with our clinic.

    Recommended Reading: Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Life Threatening


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