Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer. Read below to learn more about this cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in the United States and the most frequently occurring cancer overall. Approximately 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States every year. But that’s probably an underestimate! Unlike other cancers, nonmelanoma skin cancers are not tracked by government health officials in a database (registry), so the number of cases is probably higher than the estimate.
Basal cell carcinoma is a growing problem: The number of new basal cell carcinoma cases occurring every year (incidence) increased nearly 50% in the 35-year period ending in 2010.
Why are the numbers increasing?
BCC is one of three more common types of skin cancer described here. As shown in the diagram, the top layer of your skin, the epidermis, is made up of basal cells, melanocytes, and squamous cells. The basal cells form the bottom portion of this layer, and these cells eventually move up, change, and become the squamous cells that flake off. When basal cells become cancerous, the condition is known as basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Melanocytes are the cells that produce a brown pigment called melanin to add color to our skin. If these cells become cancerous, the condition is called melanoma. Squamous cells, which are found in the upper portions of the epidermis, make a protein called keratin, which is found in our skin, hair, and nails. When they grow out of control and become cancerous, they develop into squamous cell skin cancer.
What is basal cell carcinoma like? For pictures of basal cell carcinoma, see IMAGES. Here are some details about this cancer: