Basal Cell Carcinoma – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

March 19 21:26 2019 Print This Article

Basal cell cancer, sometimes called non-melanoma skin cancer, usually appears as a small, fleshy bump or nodule on the head, neck, or hands. It is most often found in light-skinned individuals; dark-skinned individuals are rarely affected. Basal cell cancer does not usually metastasize or travel in the bloodstream; rather it infiltrates the surrounding area destroying tissue. The most common appearance of basal cell cancer is that of a small dome-shaped bump that has a pearly white color. It has been found that people who have this cancer frequently have light hair, eyes and complexions, and they don’t tan easily. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in the United States.  Fair-skinned people over age 50 are most commonly affected; it is rare among those with dark skin. The incidence increases significantly with sun exposure. Those who work outdoors or live in sunny climates or areas with high sun exposure are at greater risk. The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is believed to be the cause in most cases.  People with dark complexions have more melanin in their skin and are able to absorb higher amounts of the damaging ultraviolet rays.  Since those with fair skin have less melanin, they are less able to withstand the effects of UV exposure.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is a very common type of skin disorders but is very dangerous also. Basal cell carcinomas enlarge slowly and steadily and can invade neighboring tissue, like the eye, but they usually do not spread to distant parts of the body (metastasize). The only way to tell for sure if a skin growth is cancerous is to biopsy it. This involves removing a small piece of the skin and having a pathologist look at it under the microscope in a medical laboratory. A biopsy does not remove the cancer, it only takes off t he very top (like the tip of an iceberg). Sometimes the skin will heal after the biopsy because it grows over the cancer. This does not mean the cancer is gone, it means the cancer is now covered with a blanket of skin. If the cancer is not removed completely it can go deep into the skin and cause great harm.

Causes of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Exposure to sunlight is the cause of almost all basal cell carcinomas, which almost always occur on sun exposed portions of the body the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back. Rarely, however, tumors develop on non-exposed areas. In a few cases, contact with arsenic, exposure to radiation, and complications of burns, scars, vaccinations, or even tattoos are contributing factors.

Find common causes and risk factors of Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Basal cell carcinomas are most common on the face because the face receives more sunlight than other parts of the body.
  • The sun damage responsible for a basal cell carcinoma usually occurred years before the cancer begins.
  • Repeated, prolonged sun exposure causes skin damage which may develop into basal cell carcinoma.
  • Fair-skinned individuals are more prone to skin cancer than darker persons, since skin pigment protects the skin. Persons of African ancestry with very dark skin practically never get basal cell carcinoma.

Signs and Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • A sore that will not heal
  • Visible blood vessels in the lesion or adjacent skin
  • Appearance of a scarlike lesion without a history of injury to the skin in that area

Treatment for Basal Cell Carcinoma

Treatment may include:

  • Most ill defined basal cells on the face are treated with MOHS Micrographic Surgery, which is the most successful therapy for eradicating these lesions.
  • Other treatment methods, such as cryosurgery, radiation therapy, and laser surgery may be used in specific circumstances.
  • Treatment for Basal Cell Carcinoma depends on its size, type and location.
  • One cannot be sure whether a suspicious growth is a basal cell carcinoma just by looking at it. In order to be sure, we must take a small piece of the growth and send it for microscopic analysis (biopsy).
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