Hugh Jackman and skin cancer

Last updated date: 03-Jun-2022

CancerGeneral HealthSkin Cancer

5 mins read

skin cancer

Australian superstar actor Hugh Jackman, known for his roles including as Wolverine in the “X-Men” series, has had to deal with a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma (“BCC”) multiple times according to his publicly divulged posts and interviews. Back in 2017, he posted a photo of himself on social website Instagram showing the successful result after surgery, assuring fans he is well and thanking the doctors who performed the skin cancer surgery. He added “REMINDER: Get your skin checked. I’m all clear. Make sure you are too,” Jackman wrote.

According to experts, BCC is a minimally dangerous form of skin cancer as it does not tend to spread to other organs and is manageable when detected. According to the Mayo Clinic, BCC is a type of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells, which are cells within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones deteriorate. BCC often appears as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, though it can take other forms. Basal cell carcinoma occurs most often on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as your head, neck, and nose. Most basal cell carcinomas are thought to be caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from excessive sunlight. Avoiding too much direct sun light and using sunscreen may help protect against BCC.

Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on sun exposed parts of your body, especially your head, neck, and nose (as with Hugh Jackman). However, BCC can develop on parts of your body usually protected from the sun, such as the genitals. BCC appears as a change in the skin, such as a growth or a sore that will not go away. These changes in the skin usually have one of the following characteristics:

    A pearly white, skin colored or pink bump that is translucent, whereby tiny blood vessels are often visible. In people with darker skin tones, the lesion may be darker but still somewhat translucent. This is the most common type of basal cell carcinoma with lesion(s) often appears on the face and ears, which may rupture, bleed and scab over.

    A brown, black or blue lesion or a lesion with dark spots with a slightly raised, translucent border.

    A flat, scaly, reddish patch with a raised edge is more common on the back or chest. Over time, these patches can grow quite large.

    A white, waxy, scar-like lesion without a clearly defined border, called morpheaform basal cell carcinoma, which is the least common.

As for the root causes in more detail, BCC occurs when one of the skin's basal cells develops a DNA mutation.

Basal cells are found at the bottom of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). Basal cells produce new skin cells. As new skin cells are produced, they push older cells toward the skin's surface, where the old cells die off and are exfoliated naturally. The process of creating new skin cells is controlled by a basal cell's DNA, which has instructions that tell a cell what to do. The mutation tells the basal cell to multiply rapidly and continue growing when it would normally die. Eventually the accumulating abnormal cells may form a cancerous tumor lesion that appears on the skin. The damage to one’s DNA in basal cells is thought to be mainly the result of excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation found in natural sunlight as well as in commercial tanning lamps. But sun exposure does not explain skin cancers that develop on skin not typically exposed to sunlight such as the genitals. Other factors can contribute to the risk and development of basal cell carcinoma which are not totally clear at the present.

Factors that increase your risk of developing BCC include:

    Excessive sun exposure. A lot of time spent in the sun or in tanning beds increases the risk of basal cell carcinoma due to heavy UV exposure. 

    Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy to treat skin conditions such as acne may increase the risk of basal cell carcinoma at previous treatment sites on the skin.

    Fair skin. The risk of basal cell carcinoma is higher among people who have less protection from melanin. People with fair skin developed in Northern climates where the sun is sparse relative to the Southern hemisphere where the sun is ample, and defenses had to be developed to protect from the sun.

    Age. Since BCC often takes decades to develop, the majority of basal cell carcinomas occur in older adults. But it can also affect younger adults and is becoming more common in people in their relative younger years.

    A personal or family history of skin cancer. If you have a family history of skin cancer, you may have an increased risk of developing BCC due to genetic predisposition.

    Immune-suppressant drugs. Taking medications that suppress your immune system, such as anti-rejection drugs used after transplant organ surgery, increases the risk of skin cancer.

    Exposure to arsenic. Arsenic, a toxic metal that is found widely in the environment, increases the risk of basal cell carcinoma and other cancers. Everyone has some arsenic exposure because it occurs naturally. But some people may have higher exposure if they drink contaminated well water or have a job that exposes them to arsenic.

If you enjoyed reading this article and wish to learn more about various healthcare options around the world, please visit CloudHospital is the global healthcare nexus on the web, easily accessible 24/7 and staffed with highly experienced professionals in the field of medical services access across the world.


Other Articles