Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It is named for basal cells, which lie at the base of the outer layer of skin. This cancer grows slowly and usually does not spread to other tissues in the body. It is rarely fatal, but can be locally destructive and requires treatment or removal.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light through time spent in the sun—particularly as a child—is recognized as the primary cause of basal cell carcinoma. However, the growth results from a combination of sun exposure and genes that make developing the cancer more likely.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing basal cell carcinoma:
, freckling, or long periods of sun exposure
Fair skin that rarely tans
Blue or green eyes
Blonde or red hair
A family history of skin cancer
A personal history of skin cancer
Treatment that suppresses the immune system, such as that prescribed for people who have had an organ transplant
History of radiation treatment
Certain rare genetic disorders, such as Gorlin’s syndrome—an inherited group of multiple defects involving the skin, nervous system, eyes, endocrine glands, and bones
Frequent use of tanning beds
A sore that may crust, bleed, or ooze for three weeks without healing
A raised, red patch that might or might not be itchy
A shiny bump that can be pearl-like in appearance or, less often, dark in color, much like a mole
A pink growth with a slightly raised border and dip in the middle
A patch of skin that seems shiny and tight, much like a scar
The diagnosis will probably be made by a doctor who specializes in skin care, called a dermatologist. The dermatologist will look at the skin growth and take a sample, called a biopsy, to test for cancerous cells. The doctor will then decide on a treatment plan based on the size, subtype, and location of the tumor.
A doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:
Mohs Micrographic Surgery—microscopically controlled surgery the offers the best cure rate for basal cell carcinoma
Removing the growth with simple surgery
Freezing the growth off with liquid nitrogen
Electrodesiccation and Curettage—treatment with a curette (a sharp, spoon-shaped tool, and an electric current)
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a