Basal Cell Carcinoma – Causes, Incidence, and Risk Factors

Basal cell carcinoma, a type of nonmelanoma skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Seventy-five percent of all skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas.

Basal cell carcinoma starts in the top layer of the skin called the epidermis. A new skin growth that bleeds easily or does not heal well may suggest basal cell carcinoma. Symptoms may include a skin bump or growth that is:

  • Pearly or waxy
  • White or light pink
  • Flesh-colored or brown

Other possible symptoms of basal cell carcinoma include:

  • A skin sore that bleeds easily
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Oozing or crusting spots in a sore
  • Appearance of a scar-like sore without having injured the area
  • Irregular blood vessels in or around the spot
  • A sore with a depressed (sunken) area in the middle

The majority of these cancers occur on areas of skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation.

Basal cell skin cancer progresses slowly and almost never spreads to other areas of the body (metastasize). However, if left untreated, it may grow into surrounding areas and nearby tissues and bone.

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