Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in the world and is related to excessive sun exposure. Basal cell skin cancer usually appears on sun exposed areas such as the nose, cheek, ear, face, neck, or extremities. As long as it is treated early, it is unlikely to spread from your skin. It is the least risky form of skin cancer. The tumor normally starts off as a small bump on the face. They usually present as a pink or red bump. It can also be found in the form of a flat pink patch or mass. They can appear on any part of your body, especially if you have fair skin. Normally, basal cell carcinoma is a slow growing mass and often doesn’t show up for years after long-term exposure to the sun. It is possible to develop at a young age, most especially if you have used tanning beds.
What Causes Basal Cell Carcinoma?
The main cause of basal cell carcinoma is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays can cause damage over time to your skin cells. Your DNA holds the code for the way your skin cells grow, and over time the damage to the DNA can cause a mutation. This mutation is the cause of the cancerous growth. Basal Cell Carcinoma is most common in individuals with a fair complexion with light hair and light eyes, but can occur in anyone. It is also more common for men to develop basal cell carcinoma than women.
Basal cell carcinoma is one of the three main forms of skin cancer. While all of them are mainly caused by exposure to UV rays, there are other factors that increase your risk of developing them.
These risks include:
- Chronic Sun Exposure
- Radiation Therapy
- Family History of Skin Cancer
- Immune-Suppressing Drugs
- Arsenic Exposure
- Inherited Syndromes (Gorlin-Goltz syndrome)
Basal cell carcinoma does not tend to spread quickly but can cause considerable damage to local skin tissue if left untreated. Treatment by our Board Certified Dermatologist may include: surgery (excision), electrodessiccation and curettage (ED&C), or in some cases a referral to a Mohs Surgeon. Untreated, basal cell skin cancer will tend to bleed and crust over. Early treatment will prevent it from invading and destroying the nearby tissue.
The best prevention method is by protecting your skin from the sun. Avoiding tanning beds and the midday sun, using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing are all helpful in preventing basal cell carcinoma. It is also important to become familiar with your skin so you can identify if there are any changes. Perform routine self-skin checks and visit Dr. Mary Noël George if any new or changing spots appear on your skin and for yearly examinations.