What is Basal Cell Carcinoma


Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a cancer of the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin. BCC usually presents as a non-healing pink or translucent nodule/lesion which may sometimes cause itching. It typically appears on a sun-exposed area of skin, such as the face and neck. BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, making up about 75% of all non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed. BCC tends to grow slowly; however, if left untreated, they can invade other tissues beneath the skin and can spread to other parts of the body[1]. BCC’s are diagnosed by their typical appearance clinically and on examination using a dermatoscope. The diagnosis is confirmed by incisional biopsy or excisional biopsy. It is possible to have more than one BCC at a time. Having one BCC increases your risk of getting another.

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) . The majority of Basal Cell Carcinomas grow on parts of the body regularly exposed to the sun, such as the head and neck. People who have excessive exposure to the sun and who have had severe sunburns, are at an increased risk of developing BCC. Visit our sun safety page.
  • The use of tanning beds
  • Those who have already had Basal Cell Carcinoma, have a higher risk for developing another Basal Cell Carcinoma in their lifetime.
  • Patients who have had organ transplants, with compromised immune systems
  • The incidence of Basal Cell Carcinoma increases with age with the highest prevalence of BCC in people over 60 years of age. However, these BCCs can also arise in younger people, such as teenagers and those in their early twenties.
  • People with fair skin, or those that have blonde or red hair and blue, green, or gray eyes are at the highest risk.
  • Individuals who have received radiation treatment at a young age [2]
  • Genetic syndromes (Nevoid Basal-Cell Carcinoma Syndrome aka Gorlin Syndrome)
  • Individuals with a genetic condition known as Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome
  • A history of cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Most Frequent Sites of BCC

The majority of BCC cases occur on areas exposed to UV radiation, especially the head and neck. Roll over the image to see what areas have the highest frequency.







  • Pink or skin-coloured nodule, which is firm, translucent, often with a pearly raised border. The bump may also have small blood vessels on the surface, giving it its pink colour. It is often confused with a mole.
  • A growth of either a pimple or a sore that bleeds, crusts over and reappears or does not heal within four weeks.
  • A small patch of scaly skin, resembling a rash, often seen on the trunk or limbs.
  • A patch of skin that resembles a scarred area that is white, yellow or waxy with poorly defined borders.

Images of BCC   

There are many types of BCC. Click Here to learn more.

Superficial BCC


Nodular BCC

Nodular BCC

Morphia BCC

Morphia BCC

Basisquamous BCC

Superficial BCC

Nodular BCC

Nodular BCC

bcc images-08

Treatment Options

Most basal cell carcinomas can be removed with surgery if they are found early, however, the course of treatment for BCC depends on the size and location of the tumour. Only a small proportion of BCC patients progress to advanced disease that cannot be treated with surgery or radiotherapy. Learn about the different treatment options for BCC CLICK HERE

Find Support 

Melanoma Network of Canada offers free support services for Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)  Treatments

Treatment options for BCC patients.

BCC Patient Forum

A place to ask questions or provide insights and information on your own experience with other patients and caregivers.


  1. What Are Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/basal-and-squamous-cell-skin-cancer/about/what-is-basal-and-squamous-cell.html;
  2.  NCCN, V1.2020; 5. Asgari, et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(9):976-981
  3. Sanofi Advnaced Basal Cell Carcinoma Burdon of Illness https://www.melanomanetwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Advanced-basal-cell-carcinoma-Burden-of-Illness.pptx
  4. IMAGES provided by DermNet NZ https://dermnetnz.org/