Basal cell carcinoma

Alternative Names

Rodent ulcer; Skin cancer – basal cell; Cancer – skin – basal cell

Definition of Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing form of skin cancer.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Skin cancer is divided into two major groups: nonmelanoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a type of nonmelanoma skin cancer, and is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, 75% of all skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas.


Basal cell carcinoma may look only slightly different than normal skin. The cancer may appear as skin bump or growth that is:

Signs and tests

Your doctor will check your skin and look at the size, shape, color, and texture of any suspicious areas.


Treatment varies depending on the size, depth, and location of the basal cell cancer. It will be removed using one of the following procedures:

Expectations (prognosis)

The rate of basal cell skin cancer returning is about 1% with Mohs surgery, and up to 10% for other forms of treatment. Smaller basal cell carcinomas are less likely to come back than larger ones. Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads to other parts of the body.


Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/5/2008

Basal cell nevus syndrome - close-up of palm
Skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma - nose
Skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma - pigmented
Skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma - behind ear
Skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma - spreading
Basal cell nevus syndrome - plantar pits
Basal cell nevus syndrome - face and hand
Multiple Basal cell cancer due to x-ray therapy for acne
Basal cell carcinoma - nose
Basal Cell Carcinoma - face
Basal Cell Carcinoma - close-up
Basal Cell Carcinoma - close-up
Basal cell cancer

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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