Trending in Celebrity Skin Cancer:

Hugh Jackman Treated for Basal Cell Carcinoma

Followers of the X-Men franchise got a scare when screen sensation Hugh Jackman revealed that he had been treated for cancer.  Before fans could get (Les) Miserable, Jackman reassured all that he had undergone successful skin surgery to remove basal cell skin cancer (BCC) from his nose.  Jackman is the latest in a line of film icons to undergo treatment for facial BCC, including US President Ronald Reagan, 70’s era 007 Roger Moore and Cleopatra herself, Elizabeth Taylor.


Echoing the themes of Jackman’s upcoming X-Men flick, “Days of Future Past,” BCC results from chronic sun exposure from years before, likely from his upbringing in Australia.  While dark black and irregularly shaped melanoma tends to get all the press, BCC is actually much more common, yet usually less worrisome. Melanoma can potentially spread to lymph nodes and metastasize. BCC tends to gradually get larger locally but otherwise stay put.  If melanoma skin cancer is a dreaded Sharknado, consider BCC to be a pesky piranha. 

On Jackman's nose...
...a red patch with slight crust...
...the likely contour of his skin cancer.


Probably the trickiest aspect of BCC is its subtle appearance.  In these high res images taken at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2013, note slight redness and crust on Hugh’s nasal bridge. In this exclusive assessment, this images appear to be his skin cancer before treatment. Sometimes BCC can look shiny or pearly and may display thin scarlet blood vessels.  If a skin lesion fails to heal over the course of weeks or months, consider BCC and have a dermatologist take a look.

Local surgical treatment is typically curative, just a few “Snikt”s from a dermatologist’s scalpel. Adamantium, the indestructible metal that makes up Wolverine’s claws, is not required.  It is possible that Jackman underwent Mohs surgery.  This procedure involves removing small amounts of tissue and then testing the specimen while the patient waits.  Though time and labor intensive, the typical result is a smaller scar, important for any patient, not just a movie star.


Kudos to Jackman for spreading the word about BCC and encouraging fair skinned folk to use sunscreen.

Runner up:  Trending in Celebrity Skin Cancer:

Singer Steve Perry Treated for Facial Melanoma

Former Journey lead singer Steve Perry has been blessed with an amazing musical career, belting songs like the Glee-rific “Don’t Stop  Believing” that celebrate optimism. In 2013, via a fan site, Perry disclosed a health scare:  A lesion on his right cheek was biopsied and found to be melanoma skin cancer. This dark and irregularly shaped lesion is likely the cancer, pre-treatment.

Presumably, the melanoma was superficial. Perry reports that he underwent two surgeries and was told that no further treatment was necessary.  He made no mention of lymph node biopsies, a good sign. When caught early and excised, the prognosis for melanoma may be excellent.

He has every right to remain optimistic.  "Don’t Stop Believing" and for the rest of you, "Don’t Stop Sunscreening."

© 1996-2014 Vail Reese M.D.

Dr. Reese's office