How is basal cell carcinoma (BCC) prevented?

Updated: Mar 23, 2021
  • Author: Robert S Bader, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Avoid possible potentiating factors (eg, sun exposure, ionizing radiation, arsenic ingestion, tanning beds). The regular use of sun-protecting clothing (eg, wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses with ultraviolet [UV] protection) is recommended when outdoors. Instruct patients to avoid sun exposure particularly during the middle of the day (ie, 11 am to 3 pm), which is the most dangerous time. Also, the sun's rays are especially intense in sunny climates and at high altitudes, and UV radiation can also pass through clouds and water. Patients should be instructed to be careful on the beach and in the snow because sand, water, and snow reflect sunlight and increase the amount of received UV radiation.

Researchers are investigating chemoprevention with systemic administration of retinoids as cancer preventive agents in patients at high risk for developing basal cell carcinoma; the efficacy of these agents will take several years to evaluate, however.

The American Cancer Society recommends a dermatologic examination every 3 years for people aged 20-40 years and every year for people older than 40 years. The US Preventive Services Task Force determined that insufficient evidence exists to make a recommendation on asymptomatic adults receiving skin cancer screenings from a clinician. [103]

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