I Wish I Hadn't Tanned
The number of Americans diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma every year.
What it is:
Abnormal growths in the skin's basal layer, the deepest layer of the epidermis; basal cells can grow bigger and lead to disfigurement.
What it looks like:
Open sores; red patches; pink growths; shiny bumps or scars; or pimples that remain after six weeks.
After a biopsy confirms the diagnosis, your doctor will remove the cancer with a scalpel or, if it's superficial and small, using an electrode or liquid nitrogen, says Ali Hendi, M.D., a dermatologist and skin cancer specialist in Washington, DC.
If the basal cell cancer is on the head or neck, or if it's large and aggressive — as in Shawna's case — your dermatologist may suggest Mohs surgery, in which a specially trained physician removes the tumor layer by layer, examining each one under the microscope for cancer cells before proceeding to the next; she stops when she reaches a layer that's entirely healthy.
This story originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Good Housekeeping.
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