Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the basal cells that make up the base of the skin’s outer layer, or epidermis. Although it is the most common form of nonmelanoma skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma grows very slowly and is the least likely form of skin cancer to spread.
Like most forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma is typically caused by harmful UV radiation that penetrates your skin during sun exposure. Thus, patients with light skin, red or blonde hair and blue or green eyes tend to have the greatest risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. Men are also more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than women.
Less common causes of basal cell carcinoma include some genetic disorders, exposure to therapeutic radiation, such as X-rays, and exposure to chemical toxins, such as arsenic.
Signs of basal cell carcinoma include presence of growths that are slightly raised or flat and may appear pearly, waxy or scaly. These growths may be white, pinkish or brown in color and are often surrounded by visible blood vessels.
If you have a scab or sore that frequently bleeds, crusts or oozes and does not properly heal within two weeks, or if you notice a scar in an area where you have not been injured, have your skin evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist to check for basal cell carcinoma.
Patches of dry, scaly skin ranging in size from a pen tip to a half dollar should be checked out by a dermatologist to prevent an occurrence of actinic keratosis from going untreated and progressing into a more serious skin condition.
Basal Cell Carcinoma is typically treated by way of excision, or surgical removal of the cancerous basal skin cells, and may include use of specialized surgical techniques, such as Mohs Micrographic Surgery.
Other treatment options for basal cell carcinoma include curettage and electrosurgery, which scrape away cancer cells and use electricity to kill them, and cryosurgery, which freezes and kills cancer cells.
Laser surgery and topical treatments, such as prescription medications like Tazorac and Aldara, may also be performed to remove surface basal cell carcinomas.
It is very easy to treat basal cell carcinoma, however the recurrence rate is high with this type of skin cancer, so it is very important to regularly have your skin examined for growths.