According to White House physician Kevin O’Connor, U.S. President Biden underwent treatment where he had a skin lesion removed from his chest. The lesion was detected during Biden’s comprehensive health assessment, and after it was biopsied, the growth was confirmed to be that of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – a common form of skin cancer.
Does President Joe Biden Have Skin Cancer?
After President Biden, 80, had the lesion removed, his doctors declared that all cancerous tissue was successfully removed and that no further treatment was required.
“The site of the biopsy has healed nicely, and the president will continue dermatologic surveillance as part of his ongoing comprehensive healthcare,” O’Connor said in a report.
What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in the world, with at least 2 million cases being diagnosed every year in the United States.
The cancer is triggered by long-term exposure to UV light from the sun, or from tanning lamps. This is typically why it occurs on the head, neck, trunk, and other extremities that are typically exposed to the sun. The UV lights trigger a genetic mutation in the basal cells, located at the bottom of the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin.
The mutation causes the basal cells to over-multiply and continue growing when they would usually die. This accumulation of abnormal cells may soon become a cancerous tumor and appear as a lesion on the skin.
Am I at risk?
The following risk factors have been associated with basal cell carcinoma:
- Sun exposure: Most skin cancers are linked to chronic sun exposure, and basal cell carcinoma is no different. If you’re constantly exposed to the sun, or have a history of severe sunburns, then you’re at high risk for developing this skin cancer – or any skin cancer at that.
- Fair skin: Individuals with light skin and freckles that burn easily face an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma. These individuals are also more likely to have red or blond hair or light-colored eyes.
- Age: Older people, such as President Joe Biden, are more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. That said, studies have shown that the condition is becoming more common in people in their 20s and 30s.
- History of basal cell carcinoma: If you or a relative have a history of basal cell carcinoma, then you may very well develop it.
- Immune suppression: Individuals with immunosuppressive conditions face an increased risk of developing skin cancers.
- Gender: Men have a higher rate than women. This may be because men are more likely to spend time outdoors than women, usually due to employment reasons. According to President Biden’s physician, Biden had spent “a good deal of time in the sun in his youth.”
What does it look like?
According to the Mayo Clinic, basal cell cancer will appear as an unusual growth and have one of the following traits:
- A shiny and translucent skin-colored bump. On fairer skin, the bump may look white or pink, and on darker skin, the bump often looks brown or glossy black.
- A brown, black, or blue lesion with a slightly raised, translucent border. The lesion might also have dark spots.
- Flat and scaly with a raised edge.
- A scar-like lesion that is white, waxy, and does not have a clearly defined border.
How is it diagnosed?
If you notice any changes in your skin, it would be advisable to consult a dermatologist. If they are suspicious of the lesion, then they will perform a skin biopsy, where they will shave off a small piece of the lesion and send it to the lab for testing. The procedure is quite simple, and the lesion will be numbed, so you will likely not feel any pain.
Is basal cell carcinoma dangerous?
Similar to other forms of cancer, early diagnosis saves lives.
Firstly, most basal cell carcinomas grow slowly, and they are not known to metastasize, so you don’t have to worry about it spreading to your bloodstream or lymph nodes.
That said, if left untreated for a significantly longer period of time, in rare cases, it can spread to the bloodstream or lymph nodes, so it is important to get treatment if you are diagnosed with the condition.
How is it treated?
There are a few methods used in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma, and these include:
- Mohs surgery
- Topical creams
- Radiation therapy
How can I prevent basal cell carcinoma?
If you’re worried about your risk for basal cell carcinoma, then you need to adopt sun-conscious habits. These include:
- Avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm
- ALWAYS wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF50 – regardless of skin tone
- Wear protective clothing and invest in a wide-brimmed hat
- Stay away from tanning beds
- Check your skin for any changes and if you notice anything weird, consult a dermatologist immediately.
Want to know more?
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