A couple of weeks ago, I had a suspicious part of skin removed from my shoulder. After some testing, it turns out the patch was Basal Cell Carcinoma.

I will go back in 4 weeks, to have the rest of it cut out of my skin. Yikes! I also have several smaller areas that are also basal cell carcinoma. There are a few on my back, one on my arm and my face. These are being treated with a topical chemotherapy called Fluorouracil. The 'Fun' part of this treatment is the way it kills the cancer cells: Basically, it burns layers of the skin off, until the cancer is gone, leaving a nice open wound.

Yes, this is the most common form of skin cancer, and it's very treatable, but I'm not looking forward to the next procedure and all of these little spots turning into crusty blisters. Below is a photo of the spot on my left bicep. Basel Cell looks different on everyone, and it doesn't have to be a mole. If you notice a place on your skin that you don't remember always being there, you need to have it checked out.

Spot on my arm before treatment. Photo by Liberty

Here are some key stats from the American Cancer Society:

Cancers of the skin (most of which are basal and squamous cell skin cancers) are by far the most common of all types of cancer. According to one estimate, about 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year (occurring in about 3.3 million Americans, as some people have more than one). About 8 out of 10 of these are basal cell cancers. Squamous cell cancers occur less often.

The number of these cancers has been increasing for many years. This is probably from a combination of better skin cancer detection, people getting more sun exposure, and people living longer.

Death from these cancers is uncommon. It’s thought that about 2,000 people in the US die each year from these cancers, and that this rate has been dropping in recent years. Most people who die from these cancers are elderly and may not have seen a doctor until the cancer had already grown quite large. Other people more likely to die of these cancers are those whose immune system is suppressed, such as those who have had organ transplants.

The exact number of people who develop or die from basal and squamous cell skin cancers each year is not known for sure. Statistics of most other cancers are known because they are reported to and tracked by cancer registries, but basal and squamous cell skin cancers are not.

Sources:[Web MD, Cancer.org]