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Living Well

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Last updated: Jun 21, 2010



Data from the Skin Cancer Foundation suggest that almost half of all Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once. More common than breast, prostate, and colon cancers combined, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) affects approximately 3 million people in the United States each year.

BCC typically grows in areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, including the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back. But it also can occur on parts of the body that get little sun and have been exposed to chemicals such as arsenic and radiation. BCC also can grow where skin is scarred and has been damaged from burns, infections, vaccinations, tattoos, open sores, and chronic skin conditions.

The 5 signs of BCC are:

  • Persistent, nonhealing open sores that bleed, ooze, and crust for 2 weeks or more
  • Red or irritated areas on the face, chest, shoulders, arms, or legs that can but do not always crust, itch, or hurt
  • Pink, red, white, tan, black, or brown bumps that are shiny, pearly, or translucent; the nodules sometimes look like a mole on people with dark hair and skin
  • Pink growths with slightly raised borders and a crusty, dented center, with tiny blood vessels that appear as the surface grows
  • Shiny, tight, white, yellow, or waxy scar-like areas with poorly defined borders

You might be at risk for BCC if you:

  • Have a history of sun exposure and sunburns
  • Have fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue, green, or grey eyes
  • Are age 50 years or older
  • Work outside
  • Use tanning beds

The best way to avoid BCC is to:

  • Stay out of the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM
  • Avoid tanning and burning
  • Avoid tanning booths
  • Use clothing, hats, and sunglasses with UV protection
  • Use a daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside; reapply it every 2 hours after swimming and sweating
  • Examine your skin at least once a month
  • Visit your dermatologist yearly

“BCC is rising at an alarming rate, especially in younger people,” says Summit Medical Group dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon Hari Nadiminti, MD. “If you have risk factors or suspicious spots, be sure to have your skin examined professionally. It 's much easier to treat BCC in its early stages. Left untreated, it can grow deeper, complicating surgery,” Dr. Nadiminti adds.

Summit Medical Group offers a wide range of treatment for BCC, including Mohs micrographic surgery, excisional surgery, curettage and electrosurgery, cryosurgery, radiation, photodynamic therapy, laser surgery, and topical medications. If you have a basal cell tumor, the extent of your surgery will depend on your age and health as well as the type, size, location, and depth of your tumor.

For more information or to schedule an appointment,
please call Summit Medical Group Dermatology
at 908-277-8668.

Click here to learn more about protecting yourself from the sun.


Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin cancer facts. Basal cell carcinoma: The most common skin cancer. www. Accessed June 2, 2010.