Star Hugh Jackman has urged his fans and followers to wear sunscreen and get a skin check. It comes after the Australian Wolverine and X-Men star got the results from a recent biopsy.
The actor, aged 52, was diagnosed in 2013 with Basal cell carcinoma. He has since been treated six times for skin cancer and his latest results came back as inconclusive. Now, he is trying to raise awareness of the condition and encourage people to be vigilant when it comes to protecting their skin.
Here, we look at what Basal cell carcinoma is, as well as the best ways to keep your skin protected.
What is Basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma is a non-melanoma type of skin cancer. It is known to be the most common type of skin cancer in the UK, making up over 80% of skin cancer cases.
You can develop Basal cell carcinoma anywhere on the body, though it is more common in sun-exposed areas. Exposure to UV rays is the most common cause, and it also develops more in those with light coloured skin.
This type of cancer is not thought to be hereditary, and it has a high treatment success rate. However, like all cancers it is important to catch Basal cell carcinoma as early as possible.
What are the symptoms of Basal cell carcinoma?
If you hope to detect this type of skin cancer early, it’s important to understand the symptoms to watch out for. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are five warning signs you can watch out for. These include:
Open sores that don’t heal – If you have a sore that doesn’t seem to heal, it could be Basal cell carcinoma. Also pay attention to sores that heal but then open up again. The sore may ooze, crust, or bleed.
A shiny nodule or bump – You may notice a clear or pearly coloured lump or nodule on the skin. They can also present as white, black, brown, or red.
A red, irritated area – Sometimes it can cause red patches of skin or irritated areas. It may also be accompanied by itching, pain, or crusty skin.
A scar like area – If the skin has a waxy, yellow, or white coloured car like area, it could indicate a more invasive form of the cancer. The affected skin will appear taut and shiny.
A tiny pink growth – Some patients develop a tiny pink growth that appears slightly raised on the skin. It may have a crusted indentation within its centre and over time, small blood vessels may develop.
Taking care of your skin in the sun
The best way to prevent Basal cell carcinoma is to protect your skin in the sun. This means wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, with an SPF 30 or higher, even on cloudy days. Other tips include staying out of the sun in peak hours, covering up the skin where you can, and wearing sunglasses and a hat to protect the eyes and scalp. You can find more useful advice in this patient leaflet.
Protecting your skin against UV rays is a key part of prevention. However, if you have been diagnosed with this skin cancer, having the right type of surgery is essential. The earlier you undergo treatment, the more likely the chance of success.
Mr Myles Smith has extensive experience diagnosing and treating Basal cell carcinoma. The type of surgical treatment you’ll need will depend upon the location and size of the tumour, but the most common surgery is a wide local excision. Usually, this means cutting away the Basal cell carcinoma, along with some skin around it, using a local anaesthetic injection to numb the skin. The skin is closed with a few stitches, but sometimes you will also need a skin graft.
For more advice, call us on 020 3770 5864 to arrange an appointment at the HCA Lister Hospital Clinics (Chelsea Outpatient Centre and Chiswick Medical Centre) or call 020 7808 2785 to book a consultation with Mr Myles Smith at the Royal Marsden Hospital.