Basal cell carcinoma risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Maneesha Nandimandalam, M.B.B.S.[2], Saarah T. Alkhairy, M.D.


Environmental and genetic risk factors that may predispose to basal cell carcinoma include radiation exposure, physical characteristics, gender, albinism, xeroderma pigmentosum, epidermodysplastic verruciformis, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, bazex syndrome, rombo syndrome etc.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Risk Factors

  • The following table summarizes the causes of basal cell carcinoma (BCC):
Risk factor Description
Radiation exposure Sunlight (UV light), tanning beds, and x-rays exposure are associated with basal cell carcinoma formation[4]
Physical features Red/blonde hair, blue/green eyes, freckling, and skin types I and II (skin that always burns and never/only sometimes tans) are associated with an increased risk for basal cell carcinoma
Albinism Albinism is associated with an increased risk for basal cell carcinoma
Gender The male gender is associated with an increased risk for basal cell carcinoma
Xeroderma pigmentosum This an autosomal recessive disorder; it results in the inability to repair ultraviolet-induced DNA damage; pigmentary changes are seen early in life, followed by the development of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma; other features include corneal opacities, eventual blindness, and neurological deficits
Epidermodysplastic verruciformis Epidermodysplastic verruciformis is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the development of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma from warts (human papillomavirus infection)[5]
Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome This is an autosomal dominant disorder that can result in basal cell carcinomas, multiple odontogenic keratocysts, palmoplantar pitting, intracranial calcification, and rib anomalies[6]
Bazex Syndrome The features of Bazex syndrome include follicular atrophoderma, multiple basal cell carcinomas, and local anhidrosis[7]
Rombo syndrome Rombo syndrome is an autosomal dominant condition distinguished by basal cell carcinoma and atrophoderma vermiculatum, trichoepitheliomas, hypotrichosis milia, and peripheral vasodilation with cyanosis[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cameron, Michael C.; Lee, Erica; Hibler, Brian P.; Barker, Christopher A.; Mori, Shoko; Cordova, Miguel; Nehal, Kishwer S.; Rossi, Anthony M. (2019). "Basal cell carcinoma". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 80 (2): 303–317. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2018.03.060. ISSN 0190-9622.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hallaji Z, Rahimi H, Mirshams-Shahshahani M (July 2011). "Comparison of risk factors of single Basal cell carcinoma with multiple Basal cell carcinomas". Indian J Dermatol. 56 (4): 398–402. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.84766. PMC 3179002. PMID 21965847.
  3. Wong CS, Strange RC, Lear JT (October 2003). "Basal cell carcinoma". BMJ. 327 (7418): 794–8. doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7418.794. PMC 214105. PMID 14525881.
  4. Lim JL, Stern RS (2005). "High levels of ultraviolet B exposure increase the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in psoralen and ultraviolet A-treated patients". J Invest Dermatol. 124 (3): 505–13. doi:10.1111/j.0022-202X.2005.23618.x. PMID 15737190.
  5. Harwood CA, Surentheran T, Sasieni P, Proby CM, Bordea C, Leigh IM; et al. (2004). "Increased risk of skin cancer associated with the presence of epidermodysplasia verruciformis human papillomavirus types in normal skin". Br J Dermatol. 150 (5): 949–57. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2004.05847.x. PMID 15149508.
  6. Cohen MM (1999). "Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome: molecular biology and new hypotheses". Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 28 (3): 216–23. PMID 10355946.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sunburn prevalence among adults--United States, 1999, 2003, and 2004. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007 Jun 1. 56(21):524-8
  8. Michaëlsson G, Olsson E, Westermark P (1981). "The Rombo syndrome: a familial disorder with vermiculate atrophoderma, milia, hypotrichosis, trichoepitheliomas, basal cell carcinomas and peripheral vasodilation with cyanosis". Acta Derm Venereol. 61 (6): 497–503. PMID 6177160.