BASAL CELL CARCINOMA
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cells – a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off.
Basal cell carcinoma often appears as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, though it can take other forms. Basal cell carcinoma occurs most often on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as your head and neck.
Most basal cell carcinomas are thought to be caused by long – term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. Avoiding the sun and using sunscreen may help protect against basal cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on sun – exposed parts of your body, especially your head and neck. This skin cancer appears less often on the trunk and legs, and basal cell carcinoma can — but rarely — occur on parts of your body usually protected from the sun such as genitals or women’s breasts.
Basal cell carcinoma appears as a change in the skin, such as a growth or a sore that won’t heal. These changes in the skin, or lesions, usually have one of the following characteristics:
- A pearly white, skin-colored or pink bump that is translucent, meaning you can see a bit through the surface. Tiny blood vessels are often visible. In people with darker skin tones, the lesion would be darker but still somewhat translucent. The most common type of basal cell carcinoma, this lesion often appears on the face, ears or neck. The lesion may rupture, bleed and scab over.
- A brown, black or blue lesion — or a lesion with dark spots — with a slightly raised, translucent border.
- A flat, scaly, reddish patch with a raised edge is more common on the back or chest. Over time, these patches can grow quite large.
- A white, waxy, scar-like lesion without a clearly defined border, called morpheaform basal cell carcinoma, is the least common. This lesion is easy to overlook, but it may be a sign of a particularly invasive and disfiguring cancer.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you observe changes in the appearance of your skin, such as a new growth, a change in a previous growth or a recurring sore.