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Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

The estimated lifetime risk for BCC in fair skinned individuals is 33-39% for men and 23-28% for women and accounts for 80% of all skin cancers.  The risk of a second BCC, unrelated to the first one, is approximately 45% within 5 years.  Of all types of skin cancers, BCC is the most indolent or least likely to metastasize.  It is, however, a locally destructive tumor and can cause destruction of skin, cartilage and bone.  Additionally, when a BCC is near a vital structure i.e. – an eye, it can lead to significant morbidity affecting that structure.

The classic description of a BCC is a ‘pearly’ papule with telangiectasias (dilated blood vessels), sometimes with a crusted, ulcerated center (‘rodent ulcer’).  There are, however, several other clinical presentations including a chronic red scaly patch, a scar-like growth, a pigmented lesion mimicking a mole or a warty-appearing plaque.

Treatment – Treatment of BCC’s is usually by a surgical procedure but can occasionally be treated with a topical medication or by cryotherapy or radiation.