What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?
Basal cell cancer is the most common form of cancer in humans. It is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer that starts in the basal cell layer of the epidermis (the top layer of skin), grows very slowly, and rarely spreads (metastasizes).
Basal cell carcinoma accounts for the majority of all skin cancers in the United States. The primary cause of basal cell cancer is overexposure to the sun and those with fair complexions are especially susceptible. For the same reason, it occurs most often on sun-exposed areas of the body, which include the face, head and neck. In part because it tends to be diagnosed early, basal cell carcinoma has a very high cure rate, if treated with the appropriate techniques. Although this type of cancer rarely spreads in the bloodstream to other parts of the body, it can extend below the skin to the nerves, muscles or bone and cause considerable local damage if not treated. Having a basal cell carcinoma does increase the risk for developing additional skin cancers, including melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is often easily detected and has an excellent record for successful treatment, although in some cases it may recur. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent damage to areas around the cancer and decrease the risk of recurrence and metastasis.