Monday, November 25, 2013

Basal Cell Carcinoma

By now, you’ve most likely seen this photo of Hugh Jackman.

The Wolverine himself announced to the world that he had skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, removed from his nose.  The bandage wasn't because he had plastic surgery or was in a fight.  He had skin cancer.  This photo made it to all the entertainment news shows while the phrase “skin cancer” was simultaneously spoken.  That’s a good step to increasing awareness.  But what exactly is basal cell carcinoma and how serious is it?

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) are abnormal growths from the basal cells of the skin, which are located in the deepest layer of the outer skin.   The very rarely spread to other areas of the body, but they can grow in size and become disfiguring if not addressed.

BCC usually occurs on skin that is exposed to the sun the most, such as on the nose, ears, face, scalp, neck, shoulders or back.  It can develop by other means (radiation exposure, contact with arsenic, tattooing, complications from burns, etc.) but UV radiation is the primary cause.

While anyone can get it, those with fair skin, red or blonde hair, and blue or green eyes are more likely to be diagnosed with BCC.  Treatments can range from topical medications, cryosurgery (“freezing it off”), radiation, or Mohs surgery.  Basal Cell Carcinoma is rarely fatal, but again, can become rather disfiguring and scarring, particularly if left untreated.

Skin cancer in general is diagnosed annually more than cancers of the breast, colon, lung and prostate combined!  BCC is the most common form of skin cancer with about 2.8 million occurrences diagnosed every year.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is very treatable and, unfortunately has led to the “simply cut out skin cancer” mentality.  But even if the treatment is that simple, multiple scars and potentially disfiguring surgery is never a preferred choice for anyone, particularly A-list Hollywood stars.  BCC can be quite serious, even if it is “just skin cancer.”
I invite you to visit the Skin Cancer Foundations website at for more information.

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