Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC) is the Most Common Form of skin cancer.
Basal cell cancer is abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis or the outermost layer of the skin.
What Does Basal Cell Skin Cancer Look Like?
BCCs often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars. BCC is a sore that won’t heal. It can look similar to a flesh-colored mole or can sometimes look dark.
What Causes Basal Cell Cancer?
They are usually caused by a combination of cumulative UV exposure and intense, occasional UV exposure, basal cell carcinomas can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow, but they almost never metastasize beyond the original site.
Almost all BCCs occur on parts of the body excessively exposed to the sun — especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back. On rare occasions, tumors can develop on unexposed areas.
Anyone with a history of sun exposure can develop basal cell carcinoma. The disease is rarely seen in children, but occasionally a teenager is affected.
Men with BCC have outnumbered women with the disease, but more women are getting BCCs than in the past. Workers in occupations that require long hours outside and people who spend a lot of time in the sun are particularly susceptible.
People who have had one BCC are at risk for developing others over the years, either in the same area or elsewhere on the body.
BCCs on the scalp and nose are especially troublesome, with recurrences typically taking place within the first two years following surgery. Should a cancer recur, your physician might recommend a different type of treatment.
A diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma is confirmed with a biopsy. A piece of tissue is then removed and sent to be examined in the laboratory to seek a definitive diagnosis. If tumor cells are present, treatment is required.
Fortunately, there are several effective methods for eradicating BCC. Choice of basal cell carcinoma treatment is based on:
- Depth of penetration of the tumor
- The patient’s age and general health
- The likely cosmetic outcome of specific treatments
In many cases a simple excision can be curative. This might be done by your dermatologist. In others a technique called Mohs’ surgery can be performed, and you may be referred to a Mohs’ surgeon. In some cases, other treatments including radiation or topical therapies may be considered.
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Chronic exposure to sun is one of the highest risk factor in the development of basal cell cancers.
Prevention methods include:
- Avoiding the sun between 10AM to 4PM when it’s the strongest
- Wearing sun protective clothing and hats
- Never use tanning beds
- Daily use of broad spectrum sunscreen (30 SPF or greater if you will be outside).
- See a dermatologist once a year for a head to toe skin examination.
For high risk patients, research has shown that nicotinamide, a vitamin B3 supplement, reduced the rate of new squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers by approximately 23% compared with placebo.