Sun & Skin News

Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Serious? Let’s Ask Hugh Jackman.

By Ali Venosa • April 13, 2023
Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman knows a lot about skin cancer. Over the years, the Australian actor has had several basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) removed. In April 2023, Jackman posted an Instagram video after having two new biopsies on lesions that his dermatologist identified as potential BCCs. In the video, he urged fans to use sun protection. “I want to take this opportunity to remind you: For those of us in the northern hemisphere, summer is coming. Please wear sunscreen. It is just not worth it, no matter how much you want a tan… trust me, trust me. Put some sunscreen on. You will still have an incredible time out there. Please be safe.”

While the 2023 biopsies came back negative for skin cancer, Jackman is strongly committed to raising awareness by using social media to discuss his skin cancer history. In his post, he explains “I know you’ve heard me talk about my basal cell carcinomas. I’m going to keep taking about them. And if it reminds even one person to put on sunscreen, then I’m happy.”

Spreading the Word on Social Media

In 2017, the last time Jackman dealt with basal cell carcinoma (BCC), he posted a photo of himself on Instagram showing the aftermath of skin cancer surgery. He assured fans he was okay in his post’s caption, thanking frequent skin checks and amazing doctors.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer, with more than 3.6 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. BCC almost never spreads beyond the original tumor site though, and the cure rate after excisional surgery is above 95 percent in most body areas. So, is this form of cancer even something to worry about?

“Basal cell carcinoma is not something to be taken lightly,” says Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Once you’ve been diagnosed with a BCC, it’s very likely that you will develop more over the years, leading to continuous treatment and possibly even disfiguration.”

Those who have had BCC are at risk for recurrence either in the same area (like Jackman, who has battled multiple BCCs on his nose) or other areas of the body. This recurrence has made BCC the most frequently occurring form of all cancers: more than one out of every three new cancers is a skin cancer, and the great majority are BCCs.

Simple Advice

Jackman’s advice for avoiding a battle like his is simple: wear sunscreen. Ours is to use a complete sun protection strategy – sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, or simply seeking shade wherever you can. Ninety percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers like BCC are associated with the sun’s UV rays. This means that, with the right behaviors, they’re also generally preventable.

So, take a cue from Hugh – protect your skin to avoid time-consuming, potentially painful, disfiguring and costly treatments later.

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