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Video:What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

with Dr. David Colbert

Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common cancers in the world. Here's a guide to identifying basal cell carcinoma, with some advice on how to avoid it and how it's treated.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Hi, I'm Doctor David Colbert. I'm a Board Certified Dermatologist at The New York Dermatology Group, here for About.com. Today, I'm going to explain what basal cell carcinoma is.

Definition of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common cancers in the United States and across the world. It can occur in any skin type, but more commonly in fair-skinned people. A basal cell grows from the basal cells of our skin, and the basal cells are at the base of our skin. And what it looks like is a pearly little bump on your skin or a pearly nodule, and if you look really carefully with a magnifying glass, it has sort of a translucent, pearlescent white color and you can see a couple of little blood vessels on it. And, that's what it looks like in the beginning. Then it can start to change and ulcerate as it grows deeper and deeper.

Different Types of Basal Cell Carcinoma

So the good thing about basal cells is that the cure rate is pretty much 98 - 99 percent, and there's some recurrence of them. Basal cells have different types. There are nodular basal cells, there are superficial basal cells, there are nodular ulcerative basal cells, so, these are all big scientific words that describe what we see under the microscope. The most common is the superficial basal cell and actually what's great about that is that if it's not in a dangerous area, say around your eyes, or nose or the mouth, it can actually be treated with a cream. It's polymorphous, so it can look like anything. There are pigmented versions, there are verrucous or wart-like versions. The most common is a small bump that turns into an ulcer after a while and doesn't heal.

Factors in Contracting Basal Cell Carcinoma

Contributing factors of contracting basal cell carcinoma are sunlight and sunlight and sunlight. So the more sunlight you get, the more likely you are to get a basal cell carcinoma. So wear your sunblock. It's also known that carcinomas can also come in syndromes, it's genetic, meaning that you've inherited the propensity to have a skin cancer like basal cell grow and you can get multiple skin cancers. But the good news is that they're pretty easily treatable.

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