Basal cell carcinoma
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* This section is provided free of charge to you from the American Academy of Dermatology's library. We do not treat all conditions listed here, nor do we perform all treatments discussed in this section. This is purely meant to be a reliable resource for patients with an interest in, or questions about, a wide array of dermatologic topics.
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Basal cell carcinoma: Overview
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It’s also the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Every year, millions of people learn that they have BCC.
This skin cancer usually develops on skin that gets sun exposure, such as on the head, neck, and back of the hands. BCC is especially common on the face, often forming on the nose. It is possible to get BCC on any part of the body, including the trunk, legs, and arms.
People who use tanning beds have a much higher risk of getting BCC. They also tend to get BCC earlier in life.
This type of skin cancer grows slowly. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Treatment is important because BCC can grow wide and deep, destroying skin tissue and bone.
Photograph used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures: 2016. Last accessed April 28, 2016.
Carucci JA, Leffell DJ. “Basal Cell Carcinoma” In: Wolff K et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th edition. USA. McGraw Hill Medical; 2008, p. 1036-42.
Ferrucci LM, Cartmel B, Molinaro AM et al. “Indoor tanning and risk of early-onset basal cell carcinoma.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2012;67(4):552-62.
Jarell AD, Mully TW. “Basal cell carcinoma on the ear is more likely to be of an aggressive phenotype in both men and women.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2012 May;66(5):780-4.
Wong CS, Stragne RC, Lear JT et al. “Clinical review: Basal cell carcinoma.” BMJ 2003 Oct 4;327:794-798.