Basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, is the most common form of skin cancer. It’s a non-melanoma skin cancer and usually grows slowly. BCC is rarely fatal, but it can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow.
It’s estimated that 2.8 million BCCs are diagnosed annually in the United States. The number of cases of basal cell cancer has been increasing for several years and it accounts for up to 80 percent of all skin cancers. This increase may be due to a combination of more sun exposure, early detection, and people living longer. As a rule, men are about two times more likely than women to have basal cell cancers. A higher incidence of outdoor employment and participation in outdoor recreational activities may be contributing factors.
It’s important to note that there's mounting evidence of a link between tanning bed use and all skin cancers. A recent study found that using an indoor tanning bed was associated with a 50 percent increase in the risk of basal cell carcinoma. Seventy one percent of tanning salon patrons are girls and women, ages 16 to 29. In the past 30 years, the number of women under age 40 who were diagnosed with basal cell skin cancer has more than doubled.
Early screening and diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma, and all skin cancers, are vital to treatment success.