What is it?
The most common type of skin cancer in the UK.
Who gets it?
It mainly affects fair-skinned adults, and it’s more common in men than women. People with freckles or pale skin and blonde or red hair are at higher risk, along with those who work outdoors, enjoy outdoor hobbies or have lived abroad.
What causes it?
It’s usually caused by too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays, or from using sun beds.
What are the symptoms?
Most basal cell carcinomas are painless. You might notice a scab that bleeds occasionally and doesn’t completely heal. Some look like a flat, scaly mark, others have a pearl-like rim surrounding a central crater. Others are lumpy, with shiny nodules crossed by blood vessels.
What are the best treatments?
Sometimes it’s easy to diagnose on appearance alone, but a small biopsy make be taken. This won’t hurt, as you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the skin beforehand. Fortunately basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads to other parts of the body, and can usually be surgically removed under local anaesthetic.
“During a routine mole check, Clare identified a lesion that wasn’t normal. She removed it immediately, and I had the biopsy results within a few days. Thankfully it was caught in good time, but if Dr Clare hadn’t spotted it when she did the outcome could have been very different. I’ve been having annual checks ever since, and I always call Dr Clare if I notice any skin changes.”
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