Basal cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that begins in the basal cells. This type of cell within the skin is tasked to produce new skin cells and replace them with the old cells that have died. However, you need not worry, as this is a minor risk type of skin cancer and is easily curable once it is detected. Unlike other types of cancer, basal cell carcinoma does not spread from the skin to other parts of the body. But it can move to nearby bone or other tissues under the skin.
The tumors in basal cell carcinoma start as small shiny bumps, red patches, pink growths, scars, and more. They can also appear on other parts of your body, including your trunks, legs, arms, and more. The majority of basal cell carcinomas cases are thought to be caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays. The rays could be from the sun or tanning beds.
The ultraviolet radiation mutates the DNA of the basal cells present in the outermost layer of skin known as the epidermis. This results in the uncontrollable growth of these cells. These look different from regular pimples. If you have BCC, you will notice lumps or nodules on the skin that look shiny or have blood vessels. There might be a white, scar-like lesion without a clearly defined border in some cases.
As we said, basal cell carcinoma occurs when basal cells present in the outermost layer of the skin develop a mutation in the DNA. As a result, basal cells produce new skin cells. The new cells then push the older cells towards the skin's surface, where the old cells die. The basal cells have DNA that controls the working of the cell. So, when there is a mutation, which might be due to ultraviolet radiation, the basal cells multiply faster and continue to grow even when they die under normal circumstances. Certain factors may increase the risk of basal cell carcinoma. These includes:
UV Exposure: People who spend a lot of time in the sun or commercial tanning beds are at a higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. The risk is higher for those who live in sunny or high-altitude places as both results in exposure to more UV radiation from the sun.
Fair Skin: Researchers have found out that people with fair skin are generally at higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma than people with dark-coloured skin.
A Family History of Skin Cancer: Basal cell carcinoma is more likely to occur if you have a family history of the skin disease or skin cancer. Moreover, if you have had BCC in the past, you still have a good chance of developing it again.
Age Factor: Basal cell carcinoma takes a long period to develop. It has been found that the majority of the cases of BCC were found in older adults. However, it also affects younger adults.
Some Medical Conditions: certain medical conditions like Gorlin syndrome, Rombo syndrome, Xeroderma pigmentosum, etc., you have a higher risk of developing BCC.
Arsenic: If you have been exposed to arsenic for an extended period, you have a greater risk of developing BCC than people who have not been exposed to arsenic.
To check for basal cell carcinoma, your doctor might ask you to go through different tests like skin exams, take skin samples for testing, and more. Once your doctor finds out you are suffering BCC, he may suggest the following treatment:
Your surgeon removes the tumour layer by layer during this surgery. They take each layer and examine it under the microscope to check for abnormalities. They repeat this process until there are abnormal cells remain. Mohs surgery is used when the basal cell carcinoma is present in a sensitive area of the body, is large, or cancer comebacks after other treatments.
Curettage and Electrodesiccation
Popularly known as C and E treatment, it involves removing the skin's surface with a scraping instrument known as a curette. The doctor then kills the cancer cells using an electric needle.
This method uses X-rays to destroy the cancer cells from the skin. The treatment is done over several weeks.
In this procedure, the doctor kills the cancer cells by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. It is also known as cryosurgery.
In this method, the doctor uses photosensitizing drugs and light to treat skin cancer. The doctor uses a liquid medicine that makes the skin cancer cells sensitive to light during the treatment. After that, a light is shined on the affected area to destroy the cancer cells.
Pills and Creams
Your doctor might suggest some medicines to treat basal cell carcinoma. For several weeks, your healthcare provider might give you fluorouracil or imiquimod to apply on the affected area. They may also provide some pills like sonidegib or vismodegib.
There are different ways through which you can reduce the risk of basal cell carcinoma:
Avoid the sun during the middle of the day
Always wear sunscreen before going out in the sun
Wear protective clothing
Avoid tanning beds
Check your skin regularly for any abnormalities
Once you are treated for basal cell carcinoma, your doctor might ask for follow-up visits, and you might need to take some precautions to lower the risk of getting cancer once again. These includes:
Learn to self-examine your skin for any signs of skin cancers.
Wear proper clothing to protect your skin from the sun
Never use a tanning bed or any other tanning equipment
As for the survival rate is concerned, the basal carcinoma treatment is most successful, especially if it is detected early.
The Department of Dermatology is a one-stop destination for all skin-related problems and diseases. The team of highly skilled professionals delivers the top-most care to our patients. In addition, our expert team of professionals offers treatment of some advanced dermatology disorders like acne, eczema, basal cell carcinoma, psoriasis, and more.