Basal Cell Skin Cancer / Carcinoma

Basal cell skin cancer or carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. Here, skin cells in the basal layer of the epidermis - cells which can form hair, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands - become tumorous.

Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma

The symptoms of this cancer include:

  • Small bump
  • Smooth or waxy in appearance
  • Pink or white in color
  • May form an ulcer or sore as it grows
  • Slowly growing

In rare cases, basal cell skin cancer can take the appearance of:

  • Small, red spot with fine border
  • A sore on the skin that persists, heals, and then recurs
  • Spontaneous scar that is not caused by injury

Basal cell skin cancer is commonly found in the:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Head

Who Gets Basal Cell Skin Cancer?

Affecting about 1 million people, basal cell skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer. People with light skin are more predisposed to developing this cancer. Indeed, white men have a 33% to 39% and white women have a 23% to 28% chance of developing this form of skin cancer.

This form of skin cancer rarely occurs in black people or those with darker skin.

How Can It Be Prevented?

As with any other sun-induced skin damage, basal cell skin cancer can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding too much sun exposure and sunburns
  • Avoiding suntanning
  • Applying lotion with SPF (sun protection factor) 15 or higher
  • Wearing protective clothings and hats

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatments?

The cancerous basal cell carcinoma growth needs to be removed by:

  • Curettage and electrodessication
    Here, the growth is scraped with a spoon-shaped blade called a curette and then exposed to the heat from electric current.

  • Surgical excision with scalpel

  • Mohs' Surgery
    Here the doctor shaves away the cancer one skin layer at a time. Microscopic examination is made on each shaved layers, until no more cancerous cells are found. By using this technique, the surgeon can try to remove all the cancer cells while conserving as many healthy cells as possible.

    Mohs' surgical technique is commonly used on skin cancers in the face, where the smallest possible scar is wanted.

Care should be used when removing all cancerous cells - if some are inadvertently left, the cancer can recur within 5 years.

Basal cell skin cancer is usually not fatal. When detected early, the cure rate of this skin cancer is an encouraging 95%.

See also:
Basal Cell Carcinoma Overview
Basal Cell Carcinoma Pictures

Warning Signs of Basal Cell Carcinoma

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