Basal Cell Carcinoma Information
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What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from a cell found in the skin, the basal cell. These cells are located in the epidermis, or top layer of the skin. Normally, basal cells divide continually to produce another type of skin cell, the keratinocytes, to replace the outer layer of skin cells that die and are sloughed off daily.
According to the American Cancer Society, basal cell carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancer, and approximately eight out of every 10 non-melanoma skin cancers will be basal cell carcinoma. Non-melanoma skin cancers, which also include squamous cell carcinoma and a few other rare subtypes, are the most common form of cancer seen in the United States, with approximately 2.2 million cases each year.
This type of skin cancer is usually found on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun. Although basal cell carcinomas used to be found mainly in middle-aged and older adults, the incidence in younger adults is increasing, perhaps due to increased exposure to the sun.
Basal cell cancers usually grow slowly, and it is rare for them to spread, or metastasize, to nearby lymph nodes or even more distant parts of the body. However, this can occur if the cancer is left untreated, so early detection and treatment is key.
Basal cell cancers can also recur in the same place that the original cancer was found. Patients who have had basal cell carcinoma once have an increased risk of developing a new basal cell cancer elsewhere. Potentially as many as 50 percent of these patients will develop a new basal cell carcinoma within five years of the first diagnosis.
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