Hugh Jackman: What is Basal Cell Carcinoma and is it different from other types of skin cancer?

The X-Men actor has urged his fans to protect their skin

Hugh Jackman has urged his fans to take care of their skin, after he revealed he was being treated for a form of cancer.

The Wolverine actor shared a photo of himself with dressing on his nose on Twitter, and called on his six million followers to “use sunscreen” after he was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma.

It is the fifth case of basal cell carcinoma to be removed from the 47-year-old’s body since 2013. 

Here is what you need to know about the disease.

What is basal cell carcinoma?

Named after the cells from which the cancer develops, it is the most common form of skin cancer.

Around three quarters of every case of non-melanoma skin cancers are basal cell, according to Cancer Research UK.

It is also referred to as BCC or a rodent ulcer.

How does it develop?

The cancer forms in the basal cells, which are in the deepest layer of the epidermis, mainly in areas that are often exposed to sun – such as the nose.

Is it different from melanoma? 

Basal cell cancer is different from melanoma, which generally develops from abnormal moles.

Melanoma is a highly aggressive cancer that can spread to other parts of the body.

While basal cell carcinoma can cause disfigurements, melanoma can be fatal if not treated. 

What does it look like?

There are four forms of basal cell cancers: nodular, superficial, morphoeic and pigmented – each with their own characteristics. 

Basal cell cancer can appear as a lump with a shiny surface and asunken middle on the skin.

A crust can also form in the centre, or an ulcer can develop. If left untreated, this will get wider and deeper. 

How is it treated?

The cancerous area can be cut out during surgery. When the cancer is relatively small, techniques known as curettage and electrocautery are combined. During this process a spoon-shaped blade removes the cancer and an electric needle takes away the skin around the wound.

Creams containing chemotherapy medicines or imiquimod lotions which encourage the immune system to attack the cancer can also be used. 

Electrochemotherapy, radiotherpay and Photodynamic therapy are also viable options. 

Who is most at risk?

Middle-aged and older people are most likely to be diagnosed with this form of cancer. 

Having one can increase your chances of getting another, according to Cancer Research UK.