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Basal Cell Skin Cancer

Basal cell skin cancer (carcinoma) most often appears on areas of the body that have been exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, back, chest, or shoulders. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and does not usually spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).

Basal cell skin carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in light-skinned people. It is rare in people who have dark skin.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • A small, fleshy bump with a smooth, pearly appearance, often with an indentation in the middle.
  • A lesion that looks like a scar and is firm to the touch.
  • A bump that bleeds, crusts over, and then repeats the cycle.
  • A red, tender, flat spot that bleeds easily.
  • Tiny blood vessels in thin red lines with a spiderlike appearance (telangiectasias).

Treatment for a basal cell cancer is usually surgery to remove the lesion. If the cancer cannot be cut out, it may be treated with radiation, pills, or creams containing medicines. Most basal cell skin cancers can be cured, but some may return after treatment.

Last Revised: October 2, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology

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