What is basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

BCC is a type of skin cancer that may form in the basal cells of the skin. These cells are the ones that make new cells to replace the cells that die.

How common is basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

It is the most common type of cancer in human beings. The number of new cases just in the United States is estimated to exceed 4 million each year.

Who is affected by basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

Basal cell carcinoma affects slightly more men than women. It occurs more often in older people. People with fair skin and light eyes are more likely to get BCC. It is 19 times more common in whites than blacks, but people of color may still be affected. People who have had BCC once are at higher risk for developing another lesion.

What causes basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

Exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight is a main cause. BCC is often found on the areas of the body reached by the sun, such as the face, hands and neck. Exposure to radiation and/or arsenic may also be a cause. It is possible that you might inherit a tendency for basal cell carcinomas.

What are the symptoms of basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

  • Lumps or nodules on the skin that look shiny or that have visible blood vessels. The lumps can get bigger over time.
  • Areas on the skin that look like scars
  • Itchy patches
  • Areas of red or patchy skin that look like eczema
  • Sores that look crusty, have a depression in the middle, or bleed often

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/05/2019.


  • Skin Cancer Foundation. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Accessed 7/5/2019.
  • American Academy of Dermatology. Basal cell carcinoma. Accessed 7/5/2019.
  • National Cancer Institute. Skin Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)—Patient Version. Accessed 7/5/2019.
  • Krishna SM, Garrett AB, Forman SB. Basal Cell Carcinoma. In: Kelly A, Taylor SC, Lim HW, Serrano A. eds. Taylor and Kelly's Dermatology for Skin of Color, 2e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Tang JY, Epstein, Jr. EH, Oro AE. Basal Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome. In: Kang S, Amagai M, Bruckner AL, Enk AH, Margolis DJ, McMichael AJ, Orringer JS. eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology, 9e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Merck Manual Consumer Version. Basal cell carcinoma. Accessed 7/5/2019.

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