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Expert Basal Cell Carcinoma Doctor at Dermatology and Skin Health

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What is Basal Cell Carcinoma? 

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of nonmelanoma skin cancer that can affect about 800,000 Americans each year. In fact, cancers of the skin are the most frequently diagnosed among all cancer types. One out of every 3 new cancers is a form of skin cancer, and the most widespread condition is basal cell carcinomas. 

This skin cancer develops in the basal cells which can be found at the base of your outer skin layer. These cells are responsible for replacing old skin cells with new ones. When there’s a mutation in their DNA, the cancerous cells will form and cause lesions to appear on the skin. 

The most often affected population were older people, particularly men who spent the majority of their time working outdoors. However, the number of new cases has rapidly increased each year and has also affected younger individuals. There is also an increasing number of women getting BCC, although the men still outnumber them.  

What is the Major Cause of Basal Cell Skin Cancer? 

Chronic exposure to sunlight is the leading cause of almost all basal cell carcinoma cases. Years of cumulative sun exposure can lead to the symptoms of basal cell skin cancer in the face, head, neck, shoulders, chest, back, ears, and even scalp. As a non-melanoma skin cancer, it’s rare for basal cell carcinoma to develop on non-exposed areas or spread to a nearby lymph node.

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At Dermatology & Skin Health, we offer world-class services done by award-winning doctors who have proven their knowledge and skills in this field. Start your journey towards achieving your best skin by contacting us today.

Risk Factors for Basal Cell Carcinoma  

Almost 90% of all basal cell carcinomas are a result of prolonged sun exposure throughout your lifetime. In addition to sunlight, there are other factors that may contribute to an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma such as: 

  • Being of advanced age 
  • Having a fair skin tone, blonde or red hair, and blue, green, or gray eyes
  • Frequent use of indoor tanning beds or exposure to an ultraviolet light source 
  • A family history of skin cancer 
  • Being exposed to radiation therapy 
  • Exposure to arsenic which is a toxic metal found in the environment 
  • Having chronic inflammatory skin disorders and infections 
  • Having burns, scars, and tattoos on the skin

The 5 Distinct Signs of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Compared to melanoma which presents as dark brown or black spots on the skin, basal cell skin carcinoma appears as an abnormal growth or scaly bump on the sun-exposed areas. They are usually benign but they can grow bigger if they remain untreated. 

To identify if the unusual lesion on your skin is actually basal cell carcinoma, here are the five warning signs that you need to look for: 

  • You have an open, non-healing sore that persistently bleeds, oozes, or crusts on the skin. 
  • You have a reddish patch or irritated skin area that occasionally itches or hurts. This mostly occurs on the chest, shoulders, arms, or legs. 
  • You have a pink growth that has a slightly crusted indentation in the center and an elevated rolled border. Tiny blood vessels may be visible on the surface of the growth. 
  • You have a shiny bump that can appear pink or red on white skin. If you have a darker skin color, this small bump will look tan, black, or brown. This bump may sometimes be confused for a normal mole but it can bleed and scab. 
  • You have a scar-like area that usually looks white, yellow or waxy and it does not have any borders. Most of the time, this symptom could mean an already advanced case of basal cell carcinoma. 

Basal Cell Carcinoma vs. Squamous Cell Carcinoma 

Out of all the types of nonmelanoma skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms. Here’s how they are different from each other: 

Basal cell carcinoma Squamous cell carcinoma 
CausesOriginates from the basal cells in the deeper layer of the epidermis Begins in the squamous cells, which are the flat cells found in the tissue of top layer of the skin 
Appearance This skin cancer type often looks like small, raised bumps that are shiny or waxy. They present as scaly patches or open sores with rough and thick skin. The patches may have a crusty and dry indentation in the middle. 
Common Affected AreasUsually found in the face, head, arms, neck, and hands. Usually occurs in the scalp, back of hands, ears, lips, neck, and arms. They can also form in the genital regions. 
Risks and complications A basal cancer cell rarely spreads to other parts of the body. However, if left untreated, they may grow into the skin and cause bone damage. Squamous cell cancer is more likely to metastasize than basal cells. However, it normally spreads slowly and when diagnosed early, it can be cured and prevented from advancing to severe cancer. 
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Basal Cell Carcinoma vs. Merkel Cell Carcinoma 

Another type of non-melanoma cancer is Merkel cell carcinoma. This disease is much more uncommon compared to basal cell carcinoma, however, it’s more aggressive and dangerous. It begins in the Merkel cells which are found in the epidermis. These cells are located close to nerve endings that give the skin its sense of touch. 

Merkel cell cancers can grow and reproduce rapidly. It usually develops firm but painless lumps on the skin. This skin condition is more likely to happen in older people with weakened immune systems. It also has a higher chance of spreading to other parts such as the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. 

Why Early Diagnosis Is Important for Basal Cell Carcinoma 

Basal cell carcinomas can be easily treated and removed in their early stages. However, when the tumor has grown bigger, you may need more extensive treatment to cure it effectively. 

Although this skin cancer hardly ever metastasizes to vital organs, it’s still necessary to get an immediate diagnosis at the first sign of a suspicious-looking bump. Here are some reasons why you need to consult with healthcare professionals for your basal cell carcinoma: 

Increased Risk of Recurrent Basal Cell Carcinoma or Other Skin Cancers

Patients who have had one basal cell carcinoma are more likely to develop more cancerous tumors in their later years. Its symptoms may show in the same place or grow elsewhere on the body. It can be especially difficult to treat if the basal cell cancers grow on the scalp and nose. These recurrences can take place within the first 2 years following skin cancer treatment. 

If your basal cell cancer recurs, the doctor may recommend another type of treatment. Methods like Mohs micrographic surgery are more effective for treating recurrent skin cancers. Additionally, it is important to examine the entire skin surface when your basal cell carcinoma returns. 

May Spread to Other Areas of the Body  

Although this skin cancer hardly ever metastasizes to other internal organs, basal cell carcinoma can damage surrounding tissue and spread to the bones and lungs. Some tumors may move and grow on the nose, eyes, and ear and become malignant. 

What Tests Are Done to Detect Basal Cell Carcinoma?  

Most dermatologists and medical doctors can immediately identify whether the spot on your skin is basal cell cancer through visual examination. However, they won’t only check the affected site but also examine the rest of your body to look for hidden skin lesions. A skin biopsy may be performed to confirm and get an accurate diagnosis of basal cell cancer. 

Treatment Options for Basal Cell Carcinoma

As with any cancer type, it’s important to get rid of the tumor completely to improve your skin condition. Your recommended treatment will depend on the size, shape, and severity of your basal cell carcinoma. Here are the common procedures that can be done to remove basal cancer cells: 

  • Cryotherapy - This treatment is a better option for superficial BCC and small lesions that don’t require surgery. During this procedure, the basal cell carcinomas are destroyed by using liquid nitrogen.  
  • Curettage and Electrodesiccation - This method is done by using a small metal instrument known as a curette to scrape out the tumor and then an electric current will be applied to the center of the tissue to kill the remaining cancer cells. 
  • Mohs Surgery - During this procedure, a Mohs surgeon will take the cancerous tissue layer by layer and then review it under a microscope to ensure all cancer cells are removed. This method allows for more precise excision of the tumor while ensuring that no healthy skin is damaged. 
  • Prescription Medicated Cream - These are topical creams that can stimulate the body’s immune system to attack the cancerous cells and remove the bumps.
  • Radiation Therapy - For basal cell cancers that have an increased risk of recurrence, you can also visit a radiation oncologist and get treated with high-energy X-ray beams to kill the remaining and difficult-to-treat tumors. 
  • Photodynamic Therapy - This treatment uses both light energy and photosensitizing drugs to get rid of the cancer cells in the affected area. 
  • Surgical Excision - This is a straightforward, invasive treatment option where a surgeon cuts out the tumor from the skin and stitches up the treated area. 
Schedule Your Consultation Now at Dermatology & Skin Health

At Dermatology & Skin Health, we offer world-class services done by award-winning doctors who have proven their knowledge and skills in this field. Start your journey towards achieving your best skin by contacting us today.

Combat Skin Cancer with Our Specialists at Dermatology and Skin Health

Remove the unusual lesions on your body before it poses a real threat to your health with the help of our skin cancer specialist at Dermatology and Skin Health. Our board-certified dermatologists can provide accurate diagnoses and start you on an effective treatment plan that will improve your skin condition. Call us now and schedule your initial basal cell carcinoma consultation.