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June 17, 2024

Kevin Jonas had a basal cell carcinoma removed; here's how the skin cancer is treated, and how to spot it

Doctors recommend people regularly check their bodies for new skin growths, wear sunscreen throughout the year, and avoid spending time in the sun during the middle of the day.

Prevention Skin Cancer
kevin jonas skin cancer Diannie Chavez/USA TODAY NETWORK

Jonas Brothers guitarist Kevin Jonas revealed that he was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. He underwent surgery to have it removed.

Kevin Jonas is urging people to get their moles checked in the wake of a recent health scare.

The 36-year-old lead guitarist of the Jonas Brothers shared last week that he has basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, and detailed the treatment he received. 

"So, today I am getting a basal cell carcinoma removed from my head," Jonas said in an Instagram video. "Yes, that is a actual little skin cancer guy that has started to grow and now I have to get surgery to remove it." He was referring to a spot on his forehead. 

In the same video, but after the procedure, he added: "Alright, I'm all done. Now it's time to heal. ... Make sure to get those moles checked, people." 

There are an estimated 3.6 million cases of basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, each year in the United States, making it the most frequently occurring form of any cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The cancer arises from the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of basal cells, which produce new skin cells and are found at the bottom of the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin.

DNA tells a basal cell how to create new skin cells. When there is a mutation in the DNA, it tells the basal cell to multiply rapidly and continue growing. The accumulating abnormal cells eventually can form a cancerous tumor, according to Mayo Clinic

Much of the damage to basal cell DNA is believed to result from ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight and tanning beds. Risk factors for BCC include chronic sun exposure, radiation therapy and having fair skin. Other risk factors include increasing age, a personal or family history of skin cancer and immune-suppressing drugs.

BCC grows slowly, meaning that most cases are curable and cause minimal damage when they are caught and treated early. "Early detection is key," the Skin Cancer Foundation wrote in a comment on Jonas' post.

Here's what to know about detecting, treating and preventing BCC:

What does BCC look like?

BCC can show itself in many forms. It's important to know its signs so it can be caught early.

"Basal cell cancer typically presents as a slow growing, flesh-colored, smooth bump with a 'pearly' or shiny appearance," Krista M. Rubin, a nurse practitioner at the Mass General Cancer Center's Center for Melanoma, told Healthline. "The lesion may have rolled borders and often have visible blood vessels. BCC may be described as 'a sore that won’t heal.' On dark skin, BCC can look like a shiny or pearly brown or black bump. There are different subtypes of BCC that have different characteristic appearances, but they all have something in common; they appear as a change in the skin."

BCC also can appear as red patches, pink growths, or growths with a central indentation. It may ooze, crust, itch or bleed, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. BCC commonly arises in sun-exposed areas of the body, like the head or neck area.

The lesions rarely spread beyond the original tumor site, but if they are left untreated they can grow deep into the skin, potentially destroying skin, tissue and bone. Also, the longer people wait to get treated, the more likely the BCC is to recur.

How is BCC treated?

The treatments for BCC vary by the type, location and size of the cancer. It is most often treated with surgery, like in Jonas' case, to remove all of the cancer and some of the healthy tissue around it. 

According to Healthline, other treatments include radiation, topical creams, pill-based interventions and electrodesiccation and curettage — in which the skin cancer is burned and scraped off.

How can BCC be prevented?

To reduce the risk of BCC, the Mayo Clinic advises avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – when the sun's rays are the strongest. People should cover their skin with protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat, avoid tanning beds and wear sunscreen year-round. 

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, water resistant and protects against UVA and UVB rays.

People also should regularly examine their entire bodies for new skin growths or changes to existing moles, freckles and birthmarks. If they see any changes, they should report them immediately to their doctors.

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