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Basal cell carcinoma: What to know following Biden's treatment

Biden had skin cancer lesion removed
Biden had skin cancer lesion removed, White House says 01:29

President Biden had a small skin lesion with cancerous tissue removed from his chest during his physical exam in February and "no further treatment is required," the White House physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor wrote in a letter released Friday. 

After the tissue was excised during a procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland and sent for a traditional biopsy, testing confirmed the lesion was basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.

In the United States alone, an estimated 2 million Americans are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

With early detection and treatment, almost all basal cell carcinomas can be successfully removed without complications, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation

"A number of effective treatments can usually be performed on an outpatient basis, using a local anesthetic with minimal pain," the foundation's website states. "Afterwards, most wounds can heal naturally, leaving minimal scarring."

First lady Jill Biden also had basal cell carcinoma lesions removed in January.

Most cases of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. 

"Over time, UV damage adds up, leading to changes in skin texture, premature skin aging, and sometimes skin cancer," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website.

Without prompt treatment, the tumor can grow, becoming more dangerous and requiring more extensive treatment.

To help prevent skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology offers some tips, including:

  • Seeking shade outdoors
  • Wearing sun-protective clothing
  • Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher — even on cloudy days
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours when outdoors
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, as they reflect sun rays
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Perform regular self-exams of your skin
  • See a board-certified dermatologist if you notice new or changing spots on your skin
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