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Basal Cell Carcinoma - The Most Common Skin Cancer

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   5 min     


What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?  

Basal Cell Carcinoma is known to be one of the common types of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells. Basal cells are present within the skin produces new cells as old skin cells die off. According to researchers, more than 4 million people develop this cancer in the United States, every year and it commonly occurs in people with fair skin. 

This skin cancer appears to be a transparent bump on the skin and may take other forms. It occurs on the areas that are exposed to the sun, such as the neck, head, etc. It is mainly caused due to long-term UV exposure. One of the best ways to protect yourself from this cancer is to avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen.

What Causes Basal Cell Carcinoma? 

Basal cell carcinoma is caused by damage and subsequent changes in DNA to the basal cells in the skin’s outermost layer. Exposure to harmful UV-radiation from the sun and indoor tanning is known to be one of the major causes of BCCs and other skin cancers. Several other factors can contribute to the development of basal cell carcinoma, and in some cases, the exact cause may not be clear.

Risk Factors for Basal Cell Carcinoma 

Understanding the risk factors that can increase the risk of getting this cancer can help you in preventing the disease or diagnosing it in its earliest stage when it is easiest to treat. 

Below are the risk factors associated with Basal Cell Carcinoma:

  • Exposure to UV rays emitting from the sun 

  • Indoor tanning

  • Increasing age (BCCs are more common in the 20s and 30s)

  • History of skin cancer such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma etc. 

  • Fair skin tone: People who have fair skin have an increased risk of BCC

  • Male gender: Men are more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma

  • Radiation therapy for treating acne or other skin conditions

  • Intake of medicines for suppressing the immune system such as anti-rejection drugs taken after transplant surgery

  • Skin inflammation and chronic skin infections from scars, burns, and other conditions

Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms 

It is important to note that the basal cell carcinoma can look quite different from person to person. This skin cancer usually develops on exposing the body parts to the sun, and approximately 85% of BCCs occur on the head (including scalp), neck and face, especially the skin and the head. 

BCC appears as a change in the skin, such as a growth or sore that cannot be healed. These skin changes usually have the following symptoms or characteristics: 

  • A white-coloured scar-like lesion

  • A red-coloured flat and scaly patch on the skin

  • A blue, brown, or black lesion

  • A skin-coloured, pink or pearly white bump

If you notice a dome-shaped growth on your skin having filled with blood-vessels, it could be a warning sign of basal cell carcinoma. It comes up like a small-sized bump of pearly-white colour that can look like a pimple that does not go away from a flesh coloured mole. Besides, sometimes these can appear to be dark, or you may also notice red or pink patches on your skin that are slightly flat and scaly. Another symptom that you may see include a waxy and hard growth of skin. 

If you observe such changes or warning signs on your skin, we recommend you to make an appointment with your doctor. 

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment

When basal cell carcinoma is detected in its early stage, it can be treated and cured. All it needs is a suitable treatment option. Since cancer becomes more dangerous as it grows, it requires more extensive treatment. 

The main objective of the treatment is to get rid of the tumour while leaving a scar, as small in size as possible. To pick the best treatment plan for you, your dermatologist will consider several things such as the size, place of cancer, since how long you have had it, etc 

If you have been diagnosed with early skin cancer, there are many effective treatment options available. Some of the options to treat basal cell carcinoma include 

  • Topical medications

  • Cryosurgery

  • Mohs surgery

  • Curettage and electrosurgery

  • Laser surgery

  • Photodynamic therapy

  • Radiation therapy

  • Excisional surgery

  • Oral medications, and many others. 

How to Prevent Basal Cell Carcinoma?

If you really want to reduce the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, below are some of the preventive measures that you must take. The ways to prevent basal cell carcinoma include:

  • Avoid exposure to the sun during the middle of the day: Make sure that you do not schedule outdoor activities between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. This is because, in many places, the radiation coming from the sun is most active between these timings.

  • Wear clothing that protects your skin: Before going out, do not forget to cover your arms and legs with dark and tightly-woven clothing. 

  • Avoid using tanning beds: Tanning beds emit harmful ultraviolet radiations that ultimately increases your risk of getting basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Thus, keep in mind to avoid using tanning beds. 

  • Use sunscreen to protect against UV rays: Before you go out, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30) generously. Besides, make sure that you reapply it every two hours.

  • Visit your dermatologist regularly: If you notice new skin growths or changes in existing freckles, bumps, birthmarks, moles etc.m, consult your dermatologist for skin check-up without any delay.

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Tags:  cancer,Skin,Skin conditions,basal cell carcinoma, basal cell skin cancer, bcc, cancer treatment, skin cancer causes

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