Most basal cell carcinomas begin after long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sunlight. Avoiding the sun or sunscreen when going out in the sun can assist in protecting from basal cell carcinoma.
Basal cell skin cancer generally doesn’t spread from your skin to other body parts, but it moves nearby bones or tissues inside your skin. Various basal cell skin cancer treatment are available to keep that happening to get you rid of cancer.
The tumors begin as shiny small bumps, generally on the nose and other face parts. However, you can also get them on any body part, including your legs, arms, and trunk. You’ll more likely get basal cell skin cancer with fair skin.
It’s natural to feel worried after the doctor detects it on your skin, but this is the least risky form of cancer. A cure to it is possible after catching it early.
Symptoms Of Basal Cell Cancer
The Basal cell carcinoma normally starts on sun-exposed body parts, especially on your neck and head. Basal cell carcinoma does not develop on other body parts you cover from the sun.
Basal cell skin cancer starts as a change in the skin, like a store or a growth that doesn’t heal with time. These skin changes usually have any of the following characteristics:
- A colored shiny translucent bump – You can see inside the surface. The bump appears pink or pearly white color. The bump often appears glossy black or brown on black and brown skin. You might notice small blood vessels, though it won’t be easy to notice on black and brown skin. The bump can bleed and scab later.
- A black, blue, or brown lesion or a skin lesion having dark spots with a translucent or raised border.
- A scaly or flat patch with raised edges and, over time, these patches also grow large.
- A waxy white or scar lesion without a clearly defined border
Causes Of Basal Cell Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma starts when a basal cell mutates within its DNA. These cells are present at the base of the epidermis, the outermost skin layer. Basal cells start making new skin cells. As you make new skin cells, they push older cells towards the surface, where old cells die.
You control the process of making new cells through the DNA of the basal cell. The DNA also contains instructions telling a cell what to do. Mutation tells basal cells to multiply and grow after each cell dies rapidly. But in this case, Basal skin stops producing new cells. Finally, the collected abnormal cells might form a cancerous tumor – the basal cell skin cancer lesion can be seen on the skin.
UV Light And Other Reasons
The DNA in basal cells results from UV radiation in commercial tanning beds and tanning lamps. However, sun exposure isn’t the only reason basal cell skin cancer forms on the skin. Regardless, various other factors can be the reason for basal cell skin carcinoma. In some cases, the exact cause won’t be clear.
Who Is At Risk?
Factors increasing basal cell carcinoma risk include:
Radiation therapy treats acne or other skin conditions that help in basal cell skin cancer treatment at some sites on the skin.
As basal cell carcinoma grows slowly for decades, most basal cell carcinomas cases are seen in older age. However, it also affects younger people in their early 20s and 30s.
Inherited Syndromes Causing Basal Cell Cancer
Certain genetic diseases also increase basal cell carcinomas, like xeroderma pigments and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (Gorlin-Goltz syndrome).
You are most likely to have basal cell skin cancer in the following cases:
- Freckled or light-colored skin
- Gray, green or blue eyes
- Red or blond hair
- X-ray overexposure and other radiation types
- Having Many Moles
- Close relatives with basal cell skin cancer
- Severe sunburns in early life
Other factors putting you at risk are:
- Weak immune system from being on a treatment plan that suppresses the immune system
- Having photodynamic therapy
- Inherited skin diseases like nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome
- Being exposed to the sun for the long term (like people who work outdoors get exposed to the sun)
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Complications Associated with Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma complications are:
- Recurrence risk: Basal cell carcinomas generally recur after treatment.
- Cancer moving beyond the skin is rare, but basal cell skin cancer can also spread (metastasize) to lymph nodes and other body areas like the lungs and bones.
- Higher risk of other cancer types: People with a history of basal cell skin cancer can also have a higher chance of having other cancer types like squamous cell carcinoma.
How To Recognize BCC?
Basal cell skin cancer spots appear similar to red patches, open sores, shiny bumps, pink growths, scars, or growths having rolled or elevated edges/or central indentation. At times, BCCs can crust, ooze, bleed or itch. The lesions commonly arise around sun-exposed body areas. Most BCCs start pigmenting (turning brown) in people with darker skin types.
The appearance of basal cell skin cancer can be different from person to person. Basal cell carcinoma has a different appearance. Firstly, people might see a dome-shaped skin growth with blood vessels. It can be brown, black, or pink. Then, a basal cell carcinoma starts as a little “pearly” bump like a flesh-colored pimple or a mole that does not fix. These growths can also appear dark sometimes. You would also notice red or shiny pink scaly patches. Another symptom to look out for is hard or waxy skin growth. These spots are very fragile, and you can easily bleed.
How To Prevent Basal Cell Cancer?
To significantly minimize the basal cell skin cancer risk, you can:
- Avoid getting out in the sun during the daytime. There are many places where the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm—schedule outdoor activities for other times during the day, even in winter or in cloudy weather.
- You can use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of a minimum of 30, even on cloudy days. Generously, apply sunscreen and reapply after two hours – or more often, when swimming or sweating.
- Cover skin with tightly woven dark clothing. Covering your legs and arms with a broad-brimmed hat provides more protection than a visor or baseball cap.
- Many companies also sell sun-protective clothing. Dermatologists recommend a reputed brand. Also, don’t forget to wear sunglasses. Search for those blocking both UV radiation types – UVA and UVB.
- You should check your skin regularly and report changes to the doctor. Examine the skin for any new skin growth or changes in freckles, birthmarks, or bumps. Check your face, ears, scalp, and neck on mirrors.
- Don’t use tanning beds. Tanning beds emit Ultra-violet rays, increasing the risk of basal cell skin cancer.
- Examine the trunk and chest and underside tops of hands or arms. Examine both the back and front of legs and feet, including spaces and ole between the toes. Also, examine your genital area and the area around your buttocks.
Treating the condition would depend on the depth, size, health, and basal cell skin cancer location. All treatments have their benefits and risks. Your doctor will discuss the right treatment options with you.
The type of treatment would depend on any of the factors:
The procedure involves cutting out basal cell skin cancer cells and stitching back the skin.
Electrodesiccation And Curettage
This method means getting the basal skin cancer cells out and applying electricity to kill any remaining ones. These are for treating cancers of small size that are not deep. Doctors often apply curettage without electrodesiccation.
Skin creams also have medicine for treating cancers that are not deep or large.
Removes the skin layer after searching for the affected area through a microscope. Then, doctors also remove skin layers until the basal cell skin cancer signs are not present. It is done for skin cancers in the nose, face, or ears.
Requires light-activated chemicals for treating cancers that are not deep or large
It would be ideal when you can’t treat basal cell cancer with surgery.
The process involves freezing cancer cells and killing them. It is ideal for treating cancers that are not deep or large.
It is used in rare instances for basal skin cell cancer moving around other body parts where surgery doesn’t show results.
Biologic Therapies (Immunotherapies)
Medicines targeting and killing basal cell skin cancer are also suitable where standard treatments fail to work.
How Dangerous Can BCC Be?
While the BCCs don’t spread beyond the tumor site, their lesions can disfigure skin appearance and make them dangerous when left for growth. Untreated basal cell skin cancer can start spreading to nearby areas, reaching deep inside the skin, and destroying tissue, skin, and bone. The longer you wait for BCC treatment, the more likely it recurs, sometimes repeatedly.
There are many unusual aggressive cases where the basal cell skin starts communicating with other body parts. Rarely under such situations can this condition turn severe and life-threatening? Well yes.
With all the above information, we learned about what is basal cell skin cancer, its risk factors, and the treatment options available for the same. Early detection is the key to getting the ideal treatment and cure. At University Cancer Centers, expert doctors are at your service to treat your skin cancer and other health worries. We follow the most time-proven and up-to-date methods to diagnose and cure the problem. Our doctors ensure proper care and follow-up of patients to minimize any chances of complications. Consult a professional doctor over the phone from University Cancer Centers if you see any symptoms of skin cancer or other cancer types. We’ll guide you to reach the best outcomes.