Hugh Jackman Treated For Skin Cancer: What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Actor Hugh Jackman had skin cancer removed from his nose, he revealed in an Instagram post today (Nov. 21).

"Deb said to get the mark on my nose checked. Boy, was she right! I had a basil [basal] cell carcinoma. Please don't be foolish like me. Get yourself checked. And USE sunscreen!!!" he wrote in the post.

Jackman's specific type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, is not only the most common kind of skin cancer, but is also the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that approximately 2.8 million people are diagnosed with this kind of skin cancer each year in the U.S.

People at particularly high risk for this type of cancer include those with blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes (blue, green or gray), light-colored skin or freckles, lots of moles, a family history of skin cancer, many early-life sunburns and high exposure to the sun, as well as those who use tanning beds.

By definition, basal cell carcinoma is cancer of the basal cells, which the Mayo Clinic describes as "a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off." This type of cancer is especially common on sun-exposed areas of the skin, particularly the nose, though it's possible to get it anywhere, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

The cancer usually manifests as a white or waxy bump, with visible blood vessels. However, it can also appear as a white, waxy scar or as a scaly and brown patch (patches often occur on the back or chest), the Mayo Clinic reported. While most people don't die from this kind of skin cancer -- only 2,000 people die from non-melanoma skin cancer a year, the American Cancer Society notes -- it's still important to treat it because it can grow (albeit slowly) to destroy bone and skin tissue. Treatments usually involve surgery, or using tools to physically remove the cancer from the body, though they can also involve freezing off the cancer or applying topical treatments.

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