A type of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma is
the most common form of cancer found in North America. It frequently affects people with fair-skin
and Hispanics, although it is fairly uncommon in darkly
pigmented people. People who work outdoors, especially
those who work in sunny climates, are at greater risk of
developing basal cell carcinoma.
Fortunately basal cell carcinoma is considered to be a
localized tumor. While it does grow, gradually invading
and destroying surrounding tissue, it only rarely
spreads (metastasize) to other areas of the body.
It is believed that the ultraviolet radiation ( UV ) in
sunlight is the primary cause of basal cell carcinoma.
Ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by a pigment in the
skin called melanin. Melanin is found to a much lesser
degree in fair skinned people than in people with dark
complexions, which explains why certain peoples are more
susceptible to UV damage.
Basal cell carcinoma can occur anywhere on the body but
is most commonly found on the face. In fact, over 90% of
them are found on the face. The tumors are very commonly
found around the eye or the nose. They begin as small
relatively flat "lumps" which over time may develop
depressions in their centers with raised edges. In
addition, they may continually scab or intermittently
The diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma is made via
microscopic examination of cells removed from the tumor.
Since these tumors may develop very slowly, people may
not notice them until they are questioned about them at
routine health care visits such as eye examinations.
While there are various ways to treat basal cell
carcinomas, surgical removal is considered to offer the
best opportunity for total removal and a complete cure.
If not completely removed these tumors can recur.
Individuals with fair skin should avoid excessive
unprotected exposure to strong sunlight. When outdoors
under such conditions it is wise to wear protective hats
with adequate brims to protect the face and neck.
Over-the-counter sunscreens are strongly recommended as