Basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, develops in the epidermis -- the outer layer of the skin. It’s the most common type of skin cancer and results from abnormal growth of the round, basal cells. They often appear as open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars, and they tend to appear in areas that bleed easily with minimal or no trauma.
Basal cell cancer most commonly appears on the head and neck of both men and women. In women, BCC also frequently occurs on their lower extremities, while men tend to have more ear lesions. It rarely metastasizes, or spreads, to other parts of the body.
Basal cell skin cancer grows slowly. It’s seldom fatal, but it can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow. BCC is linked to intermittent, intense, and early episodes of sunburn.
The number of cases of basal cell cancer has been increasing for several years and it accounts for around 80 percent of all skin cancers. This increase may be due to a combination of more sun exposure, early detection, and people living longer.
It’s important to note that there's mounting evidence of a link between tanning bed use and all skin cancers. Research suggests that using an indoor tanning bed is associated with a 50 percent increase in the risk of basal cell carcinoma. People who use tanning beds also tend to get BCC at an earlier age.
Regularly checking your skin for suspicious changes can help detect basal cell skin cancer in its earliest stages and gives the greatest chance for successful treatment. If you find something suspicious, it’s important to contact your provider immediately for evaluation.