Basal Cell Carcinoma: A Highly Curable Cancer If Treated Early!
Which treatment is used depends on:
- where the tumor is
- how big the tumor is
- how deep the tumor is
- your general health
- your medical history
- whether the tumor has been treated before
There are many treatment options are available for basal cell carcinoma. Most can be easily done in your Orlando dermatologist’s office. They include:
Identification & Characteristics:
Basal cell skin cancers develop from cells that line the bottom of the skin’s top layer (epidermis). They almost always occur in areas exposed to the sun: 80% show up on the head and neck, and most of the rest on the trunk, arms, and legs. The face, especially the nose, is particularly vulnerable.
The characteristics and location of basal cell carcinoma vary somewhat with the type, although many are a mixture of types. The most common form, nodular, usually shows up as a shiny bump, generally on the face, scalp, ears, or neck. It may bleed easily. And it often ulcerates and crusts over, which may create the illusion that it’s healing. Superficial basal cell carcinoma usually occurs on the trunk, especially the back, as a red, scaly, sometimes itchy spot (it may have flecks of dark pigment). It’s often mistaken for a patch of dermatitis. A rarer and more aggressive type (morpheaform) has a waxy white or yellow scarlike appearance and poorly defined borders.
Anyone can get this common skin cancer, but some people have a greater risk. People with a greater risk of getting basal cell carcinoma (BCC) have one or more of the following risk factors:
Your physical traits
- Light-colored or freckled skin.
- Blue, green, or gray eyes.
- Blond or red hair.
- An inability to tan.
What you’ve done
- Spent a lot of time outdoors for work or leisure, without using sunscreen or covering up with clothing.
- Frequently used tanning beds.
Your medical history
- If you had one BCC, your risk for developing a second one increases by about 40%.
- Close blood relative had BCC.
- Taking one or more drugs that suppress the body’s immune system. People take these drugs after receiving an organ transplant and to treat a medical condition, such as severe arthritis, lymphoma, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Overexposure or long-term exposure to x-rays, such as patients who received x-ray treatments for acne.
Risk of developing many BCCs by 20 years of age
Some people are born with a rare condition that makes them more likely to develop many skin cancers, including basal cell cancers, early in life. BCC can develop by 20 years of age in people who have a rare medical condition known as basal cell nevus syndrome.
What causes BCC?
Unlike many cancers, the cause of BCC is well known:
- Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds cause BCC.
When UV rays from the sun or tanning beds hit our skin, these rays damage the DNA in the cells of our skin. The body tries to repair this damage. When the rays repeatedly hit our skin, the body cannot repair the damage.
When the body cannot repair the damage, skin cancer develops. Skin cancer usually develops after years of sun exposure. Around 50 years of age, the risk of developing skin cancer increases significantly.
People much younger than 50 years of age also get BCC. Most of these people are women who use indoor tanning beds. Many of these BCCs could be prevented if the women never used tanning beds.
Radiation therapy is often a good option for treating patients who aren’t able to have surgery and for treating tumors on the eyelids, nose, or ears – areas that can be hard to treat surgically – especially in older patients where cure may not be as important as control over the long term. It’s also sometimes used after surgery if it’s not clear that all of the cancer has been removed.