Basal Cell Carcinoma – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer. It is the most common type of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Most skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinoma is slow-growing cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are the other common types of skin cancers.
Basal cell carcinoma occurs most commonly in people over age 40, but it can also occur in younger people who have had extensive exposure to the sun.
What causes basal cell carcinoma?
Exposure to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation causes most basal cell carcinomas of the skin. The skin consists of two layers; epidermis is the top layer, the bottom layer of the skin is called basal cell layer. Cancer that occurs in the basal cell layer of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma.
The following factors increase the risk for basal cell carcinoma:
- Having light-colored or freckled skin
- Having blue, green, or grey eyes
- Having blond or red hair
- Having many moles
- Having close relatives who have or had skin cancer
- Have had severe sunburns early in life
- Long-term daily sun exposure
- Overexposure to x-rays or other forms of radiation
What are the symptoms of basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma is painless and usually grows slowly. It is very difficult to recognize it, as the skin may not look that different from your normal skin. A skin bump or growth is the sign of a basal cell carcinoma. The skin bump or the growth may look like:
- Pearly or waxy
- White or light pink
- Flesh-colored or brown
- A red, scaly patch of skin
The following are the other possible symptoms:
- A scar-like sore without having injured the area
- A sore that bleeds easily
- Oozing or crusting spots in a sore
- A skin sore that does not heal
- A sore with a depressed area in the middle
- Irregular blood vessels in or around the spot
How is basal cell carcinoma diagnosed?
A doctor will closely examine the skin and observe the size, shape, color, and texture of any suspicious areas to look for signs of cancer. If the doctor suspects skin cancer, he may do a skin biopsy and send the sample to a lab for microscopic examination for confirmation of diagnosis.
How is basal cell carcinoma treated?
Treatment of basal cell carcinoma depends on the shape, size, depth, and location of the skin cancer. The doctor may also consider your overall health before choosing the treatment option.
The following are the treatment options:
- Excision: This procedure involves cutting out the skin cancer and stitching the skin together.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation: The procedure involves scraping any cancer cells that still remain after excision.
- Cryosurgery: This procedure involves freezing the cancer cells to kill them.
- Medication: Medicated skin creams are used to kill cancer.
- Mohs surgery: In this procedure, the doctor removes a layer of the skin and examines it microscopically immediately to look for any signs of cancer. The procedure is repeated until there are no signs of cancer.
- Photodynamic therapy: This mode of treatment uses light to treat small skin cancers that are not deep.
- Radiation: Radiation treatment is used if surgery is not possible.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is used in cases where the skin cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This mode of treatment is also used when surgery is not possible.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.