Basal Cell Carcinoma
This page aims to provide further information about your diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma and treatment options.
What is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?
BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, usually beginning in later life. BCCs usually appear on the face or back, and occasionally elsewhere. They occur most commonly in fair skinned people (blue eyes, red hair, freckles and a tendency to burn in the sun). People who have lived or worked abroad in a sunny place or who work outdoors or enjoy outdoor hobbies are most at risk.
It may take many years before BCCs appear and they usually affect people who are over the age of 40.
BCCs appear in a variety of ways, most commonly as a small flesh-coloured lump that gradually grows in size. The surface may become broken and frequently forms a small ulcer.
Sometimes BCCs appear as a scaly patch, particularly on the back and, rarely, they can look like a scar. If left for many years, they can become large but they do not spread to other parts of the body and therefore do not pose a threat to your health whatsoever. However, if neglected, they may damage nearby features such as the eyelid or nose.
How are they diagnosed?
BCCs are diagnosed by their appearance. The diagnosis may also be confirmed by removing part or the whole of the lesion and examining it under a microscope.
BCCs can easily be treated with a variety of treatments including surgical removal, scraping or with topical creams.
Occasionally, they can recur in the scar following treatment and appear as an ulcer or nodule after the wound has healed. Let your doctor know if you have any concerns.
Finally, it’s worthwhile protecting the skin from sun once you have an BCC to prevent more developing. You should wear a sunscreen and a hat during the summer months (even on a dull day as the sun’s rays still get through the clouds). Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you on further safety in the sun.
Cancer Research UK
Offer a wealth of information about cancer and cancer research
t: 0808 800 4040
British Association of Dermatologists
t: 0207 383 0266
Cancer information for patients and carers
Sun Smart (Cancer Research UK)
The UK’s National Skin Cancer Prevention Campaign run by Cancer Research UK.
t: 0800 226237