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Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is one of the most common forms of skin cancer in Canada. Even though it isn’t a very dangerous form of skin cancer, it must be treated since it will continue to grow, and invade and destroy surrounding skin tissue, which can eventually cause disfigurement. It is caused primarily by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Frequent severe sunburns or intense sun exposure as a child can increase the risk of developing basal cell skin cancer in adulthood.

Major risk factors include:

  • Fair skin that usually burns when out in the sun, especially if you also have blond or red hair
  • Over 50 years old
  • A compromised immune system, such as from after an organ transplant
  • Having one basal cell skin cancer puts you at greater risk for developing another

Basal cell skin cancers usually appear on areas more exposed to the sun, such as the face or neck, but are also common on the trunk and legs. The appearance of this type of skin cancer can vary.

Some early warning signs to look out for are:

  • A firm, flesh coloured or slightly reddish bump, often with a pearly border
  • A sore of pimple-like growth that bleeds, crusts over, then reappears
  • A small, red scaling patch (seen most often on the trunk or limbs)
  • It may have small blood vessels on the surface which gives it a red colour

Any sore that does not heal within four weeks should be examined by a physician.

Treatment options for basal cell carcinoma depend on the tumour size and location, as well as the patient’s own health status. Some treatment options are surgical excision, electrodessication and cautery, or laser surgery, where the lesion is vaporized.

If you would like to learn more about basal cell carcinoma, click the links below for further information.


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