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What are the most common areas on the skin to develop basal cell carcinoma?

“The fact of the matter is, skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon in Austin, Texas. “I have literally seen skin cancer develop on the top of the head and soles of the feet, and just about everywhere in between.”

Skin cancer is exceedingly common, with basal cell carcinoma being the most common form of this disease that develops on the skin. “With more and more public awareness and the rise of skin cancer education campaigns, many of my patients know what to look for and how to look, but they still ask me where to look,” explains Dr. Mamelak.

It begs the question: What are the most common areas on the skin to develop basal cell carcinoma? According to the American Cancer Society, basal cell carcinoma or basal cell cancer (BCC) usually developed on the sun exposed parts of the skin, such as the face, ear, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands. Unlike other forms of cancer such as melanoma, it almost never spreads to other parts of the body.  BCC can however destroy local structures and invade surrounding tissue.

“It breaks down the skin, causing bleeding and a potential for infection, and extends its roots into cartilage, muscle and bone, destroying these structures,” says Dr. Mamelak.

Basal cell carcinoma gets its name because it starts at the basal cells on the top layer of the skin or epidermis. It is most common among people over 40, though younger people can contract it as well. This form of cancer is very curable if it is caught early.

Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and is sometimes not very different from ordinary skin it can manifest itself as skim bump that is either pearly or waxy, white or light pink, or flesh-colored or brown. It also could become a sore that oozes or bleeds easily and does not seem to heal.

Roughly 83.8 percent of basal cell carcinomas are on the head region. Of those the distribution is as follows: the nose (25.09%), scalp (15.44%), area around the eye (10.03%), cheek (10.42%), area around the ear (9.65%), forehead (6.17%), upper lip (3.86 %), lower lip (1.15 %), chin (1.15 %) and neck (0.77 %).

The dermatologists at Sanova Dermatology will check your skin for suspicious areas and, if he or she thinks you might have a skin cancer, will take a biopsy to be examined in a lab. Treatment could involve some form of surgery, medication, or a procedure that uses light to kill the cancer cells called photodynamic therapy. While most basal cell carcinomas can be cured if caught early, they occasionally come back. Regular checkups and self examinations are recommended.

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If you have a suspicious skin lesion or spot, or are concerned about basal cell carcinoma skin cancer, please contact us at Sanova Dermatology and schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified dermatologists.