Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma

What is superficial basal cell carcinoma?
Superficial basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, but is curable if identified early and therapy is initiated. It most often occurs as a result of sun overexposure and is more likely to appear on a fair-skinned person. Superficial basal cell carcinomas can take different shapes and colors. Some areas appear as thin, pink or red patches on the skin and often, but not always, have a pearly border. Also, patches may feel slightly scaly or rough. Because of the wide variation in appearance, it is best to ask your dermatologist to check any suspicious spots.

What should I know about superficial basal cell carcinoma?
People who suspect they have superficial basal cell carcinoma should see a dermatologist. He or she performs tests, such as examining the area(s) under a magnifying glass, that will determine if telltale characteristics of this lesion are present. Your dermatologist may also perform a biopsy, in which a piece of the skin patch is removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether abnormal cells are present. Anyone diagnosed with superficial basal cell carcinoma should have a yearly skin screening. People with a history of these lesions are at a higher risk for developing new ones. In addition, they should protect themselves from the damaging effects of excessive sun exposure by staying out of the direct sun during the peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm, and using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Ideally, sunscreen should be reapplied every 1 1/2 hours while outside, even on cloudy days. Covering areas of the skin exposed to the sun with clothing is also recommended.