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What is basal cell carcinoma?

Basal cell skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer in the United States. It is more common in skin that has been exposed to lots of ultraviolet light, especially sunlight. The cancer occurs in the skin's basal cells, found in the deepest part of the upper layer of skin, called the epidermis. On the skin surface, a basal cell skin cancer may appear as:
  • a pink or flesh-colored round growth with apparent blood vessels
  • a brown, black, or speckled brown/black lesion
  • a scaly patch of pinkish, shiny skin
  • a flesh-colored waxy scar-like lesion
  • a sore that bleeds easily, oozes, crusts, sinks in the middle and won't heal permanently
  • an itchy, painful lesion (rare)
Basal cell skin cancer rarely spreads to other body parts and is almost never fatal. However, it can be disfiguring and should be diagnosed and treated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.