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Basal Cell Cancer

A type of skin cancer that arises from the basal cells, small round cells found in the lower levels (or base) of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.

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Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in humans. Over one million new cases of basal cell carcinoma are estimated in Americans in 2016. This carcinoma develops in the basal (lower level) cell layer of the skin's epidermis and can, if neglected, be very destructive and locally disfiguring. It rarely metastasizes (does not spread beyond the skin).

Because basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads, a biopsy often is the only test needed to determine the stage. In patients where the growth is very large or has been present for a long time, the doctor will carefully check the lymph nodes in the area. In addition, the patient may need to have additional tests, such as special x-rays, to find out whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Knowing the stage of a skin cancer helps the doctor plan the best treatment.

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