Basal Cell Carcinoma: Everything You Need to Know

  1. Skin diseases and conditions
  2. Skin cancer and precancerous conditions
  3. Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of skin cancer, affecting millions of people each year. It is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer that is slow growing and typically doesn't spread to other parts of the body. While it can be treated, basal cell carcinoma can cause disfigurement and should be taken seriously. In this article, we will provide an overview of basal cell carcinoma and discuss the signs, causes, diagnosis, treatments, and prevention.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

is the most common type of skin cancer.

It typically appears as a painless, raised, pearly-colored bump on the skin and can range from small to large in size. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of developing more serious complications from BCC. The cause of BCC is unknown, although excessive exposure to UV radiation from sunlight or other sources is believed to be a contributing factor. Other risk factors include fair skin, a history of excessive sun exposure, a weak immune system, and certain genetic syndromes.

Signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma may include a pearly or waxy bump on the skin, an open sore that bleeds or oozes, a reddish patch of skin that may be scaly or crusty, a scar-like area of skin that is white or yellowish and doesn't heal, or an area of skin that looks like a sore that doesn't heal for several weeks. Diagnosis of BCC is usually done through a biopsy, where a sample of the suspicious area is taken and examined under a microscope. If the biopsy confirms the presence of BCC, staging may also be done to determine the extent of the cancer.

Treatment options

for BCC include surgery, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, topical therapy, photodynamic therapy, laser therapy, electrodessication and curettage (ED&C), and Mohs micrographic surgery.

Surgery is the most common treatment for BCC and can involve cutting out the cancerous tissue or removing it with lasers or other heat sources. Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze off the cancerous tissue. Topical therapy involves applying creams or gels to the affected area.

Photodynamic therapy uses light-sensitive drugs to kill cancer cells. Laser therapy uses highly concentrated beams of light to destroy cancer cells. ED&C involves using a sharp instrument to scrape away cancer cells and then cauterizing them with an electric current. Mohs micrographic surgery removes thin layers of cancerous tissue until only healthy tissue remains.

Each of these treatments has its own set of potential risks and benefits. Surgery carries the risk of infection and scarring, while radiation therapy carries the risk of damaging healthy tissue surrounding the cancerous area. Cryosurgery carries the risk of nerve damage and scarring, while topical therapy carries the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions. Photodynamic therapy may cause temporary skin discoloration, while laser therapy may cause temporary redness or swelling.

ED&C carries the risk of infection, while Mohs micrographic surgery carries the risk of leaving behind some cancerous cells.

Preventive measures

such as avoiding excessive sun exposure, using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing when outdoors can help reduce the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. People should also be aware of any changes in their skin and seek medical attention if they notice any unusual bumps or sores that don’t heal after a few weeks. There are many examples of people who have received successful treatments for BCC and have seen significant improvements in their quality of life.

Some have even gone on to lead normal lives without any further problems from the disease.

Prevention of BCC

Basal cell carcinoma can be prevented in a number of ways. Avoiding excessive sun exposure is key, as this type of skin cancer is typically caused by over exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Whenever you are outdoors, it is important to wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs, and to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapplied every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

It is also important to avoid tanning beds, as this type of artificial light can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. If you are spending time outdoors during peak hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., try to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Diagnosis and Staging of BCC

Diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is usually diagnosed through a physical examination with a dermoscope or magnifying lens, a biopsy of the affected area, and imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans. A biopsy involves removing a sample of the skin and examining it under a microscope.

The doctor may also order lab tests to rule out other diseases.

Staging of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will determine the stage of the cancer. This is done using the TNM staging system. TNM stands for tumor size (T), lymph node involvement (N), and metastasis (M).

The stage describes how far the cancer has spread and helps guide treatment decisions.

BCC Symptoms and Causes

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It can cause a variety of symptoms, such as a pearly-colored bump or an open sore that doesn't heal. BCC can range in size from small to large.

Common signs and symptoms of BCC include:

  • Pearly-colored bump: These bumps may be raised, and may have a waxy or scaly surface.
  • Open sore: This type of sore may not heal, may bleed, and may be crusty or scab-like in appearance.
  • Flat, red patch: This type of patch may be scaly and may not hurt.
BCC is caused by overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Other risk factors for developing BCC include fair skin, a history of sunburns or excessive sun exposure, living in sunny or high-altitude climates, a weakened immune system due to certain medications or illnesses, and a family history of skin cancer. While anyone can develop BCC, it's more common among people with light skin and those who are frequently exposed to the sun.

Treatments for BCC

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is treatable and there are a variety of treatment options available. Surgery is the most common and effective form of BCC treatment and typically involves removing the tumor with a scalpel or other surgical tool. Radiation therapy is another option and uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.

Cryosurgery is a type of treatment that involves freezing the cancer cells with liquid nitrogen. Topical therapy, photodynamic therapy, and laser therapy are also used to treat BCC. Electrodessication and curettage (ED&C) is a procedure that involves burning the cancer cells with an electric needle. Lastly, Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized procedure that involves removing thin layers of skin one by one until all of the cancer cells have been removed.

When considering any form of treatment for BCC, it is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor. Surgery may leave a scar on the skin, while radiation therapy can cause skin irritation or fatigue. Cryosurgery may cause blistering or scarring, and topical therapies can cause skin irritation. Photodynamic therapy and laser therapy can also cause skin irritation, redness, and swelling.

ED&C may cause some discomfort during the procedure and can leave scarring on the skin. Lastly, Mohs micrographic surgery may require multiple appointments and can leave a larger scar than other treatments. It is important to talk to your doctor about which treatment option is best for you based on your medical history and lifestyle. Each treatment option carries risks and benefits, so it's important to weigh them carefully before making a decision. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer, and it can be treated if caught early. Symptoms of BCC include a painless, raised, pearly-colored bump on the skin that can range from small to large in size.

Diagnosis and staging of BCC is necessary to ensure proper treatment and to reduce the risk of developing more serious complications. Treatment options for BCC include surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, topical medications, and photodynamic therapy. Preventive measures such as avoiding sun exposure and using sun protection are important for reducing the risk of developing BCC. In conclusion, early diagnosis and treatment of basal cell carcinoma can help reduce the risk of developing more serious complications. It is also important to follow preventive measures such as avoiding sun exposure and using sun protection to reduce the risk of developing BCC.

Dr Andrew Seit
Dr Andrew Seit

AI and Cardiology enthusiast, Nomadic traveller, Music lover, and SEO fanatic. Author with expertise in Healthcare, AI, Search and Tech. Approachable, Friendly, and Knowledgeable. Plus, always looking for the latest advancements in artificial intelligence enhancing and augmenting human productivity.