As unfortunate as it is, you likely know someone who currently has or has had skin cancer. Chances are, it's been Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), which is the most common type of skin cancer. Here in our Northern California Dermatology office, we see a lot of people who have basal cell carcinoma.
Nodular Basal Cell CarcinomaWhat is basal cell carcinoma? This type of skin cancer is the result of DNA damage caused by UV rays as I explained in the first post of this series called Understanding Skin Cancer: Melanoma. The basal cells are at the very bottom (base) of your top living skin cell layer, which is called the epidermis. When the harmful rays of the sun penetrate into the deepest portion of your epidermis, the basal cell DNA is damaged. Once damaged, the cancers start to grow. Basal cell carcinoma are more common in people who have had a lot of sun exposure over their lifetime and in people who have a history of multiple bad sunburns. Also, fair-skinned complexions and some families are more prone to it than others. The statistics are staggering - there are almost 3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed annually! We see a lot of them on a daily basis in our practice. They can look very subtle and are often thought to be a rash, mole or age spot by the untrained eye. But, board certified dermatologists are experts at detecting these subtleties and catching BCCs at their earliest stages. This is why it is critically important to get regular skin checks! What are some of the signs of basal cell carcinomas?
- Flesh-colored or yellow lesions that may look a lot like a scar; they may be raised or flat
- Pink lesions that bleed easily, itch or hurt
- Pink, pearly (looking like a pearl) lesions with tiny blood vessels in them
- Pink spots with rolled edges resembling a donut
- Brown lesions that have a translucent or waxy appearance to them
- Avoid sun during its peak hours between 10am and 3pm and seek shade whenever possible.
- Wear zinc-containing sunscreen! We have plenty of wonderful lightweight sunscreens in our office and online that our dermatologists swear by!
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply every two hours if sweating or swimming.
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat.
- Consider sun-protective clothing such as Coolibar has.