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Sure Signs You Have Basal Cell Cancer, Say Physicians

Dermatologist explains what to know about basal cell cancer. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and an estimated 3.6 million U.S. cases are diagnosed every year.  While that number is alarming, the good news is the cancer grows slowly and is very treatable. That said, with every cancer, early detection is key and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Karan Lal, board certified dermatologist, fellowship trained pediatric dermatologist  ASDS cosmetic surgery fellow with Schweiger Dermatology Group in Hackensack, NJ who shares what to know about basal cancer and signs to look out for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What to Know About Basal Cell Cancer

doctor mature patient checkup

Dr. Lal tells us. "Basal cell skin cancer is the most common skin cancer. They typically appear in the fourth decade and above in people who've had chronic long-term sun exposure. Sun exposure is a known risk factor for the development of basal cell skin cancers. While these skin cancers are not dangerous and rarely metastasize they can cause significant damage as they infiltrate the surrounding skin. When basal cells are ignored they spread locally and I have seen basal cell skin cancers take over peoples' faces and eye sockets."


Basal Cell Cancer is Very Treatable


Dr. Lal emphasizes, "Basal cell skin cancer is absolutely treatable. Mohs surgery has a cure rate of about 99%. This type of surgery is performed in sensitive areas like the head and neck, hands, feet, and genitals. When basal cell cancers are not in these locations they can be treated with liquid nitrogen, topical chemotherapy, traditional excisions which have varying success rates but are right for the right patient."


How to Help Prevent Basal Cell Cancer

middle aged woman applying sunscreen lotion on face on the beach

"Basal cell skin cancer can be prevented with adequate sun protection and sun avoidance," says Dr. Lal. "I recommend people use a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ at least on their face and neck which are very common locations for basal cell skin cancer. For people who are outdoors I recommend recurrent application of broad-spectrum sunscreen in all exposed areas."


Bleeding Bump on the Face

Young woman outdoors checking her face in a round powder compact mirror.

According to Dr. Lal, "Basal cell cancer often can present as a painless bleeding bump that never heals. This is because the tumor has abnormal vessels and abnormal skin cells."



woman consulting with her female doctor

Dr. Lal explains, "Basal cell skin cancers often present as what we call a rat bite ulcer. If you notice a bump with an ulcer within it it could be a basal cell skin cancer."


Firm Plaque with Blood Vessels

Dermatologist checking skin on male patient chest.

Dr. Lal says, "There are some types of basal cell skin cancer that can present as scars with very prominent blood vessels. These can be hard to diagnose and are misdiagnosed often. If you have a scar without any antecedent injury you should get this evaluated."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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