Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. BCC is commonly found on the nose as well as areas that are frequently exposed to the sun. Nonetheless, BCC can appear on any part of the body, including the torso, legs, and arms. Individuals who tend to sun bathe outside or use sun beds are more likely to get basal cell carcinoma. The risk of developing skin cancer increases significantly near the age of 50, but those younger than 50 can also get basal cell carcinoma. It is more commonly observed in women who tend to frequent indoor tanning beds. Although BCC grows slowly and rarely spreads to other areas of the body, the developed tumor may cause significant blemishes by attacking surrounding tissues.
It has been well documented that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds may cause basal cell carcinoma. When UV rays from the sun or tanning beds hit the skin, they may damage the DNA in skin cells. Normally, the body can repair this damage, yet over constant long-term exposure to UV light, the repair mechanisms used to repair DNA no longer function; resulting in unsalvageable, damaged DNA. Consequently, skin cancer may develop.
Basal cell carcinoma may present on the skin in a number of ways but generally may appear as a crusty sore that will not heal and bleeds easily. Other common symptoms include, but are not limited to: dome-shaped skin growths with visible varying-colored blood vessels; pale-white, yellow, pink or red; difficulty in seeing the edges of the lesion (may appear similar to a scar); and a slightly scaly patch (particularly seen on the torso).
We may perform a non-invasive skin biopsy in order to identity if the skin lesion is in fact basal cell carcinoma. To perform a skin biopsy, we may remove the entire growth or part of it where it will be sent to a laboratory for assessment. The findings will be communicated to us in a biopsy report.
Nearly every basal cell cancer can be cured, especially when the cancer is detected early and treated. Depending on the biopsy report findings, there are several ways to treat basal cell carcinoma. Pharmaceutical therapies such as Vismodegib, Sonidegib, and creams containing medications, such as imiquimod or 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) have been found to be effective in treating to BCC. Clinical procedures also available are: curettage & electrodessication (destroys tumor with an electric current), Mohs surgery, radiation, photodynamic therapy (destroy carcinoma through light amplification), cryotherapy (freezes off tumor with liquid nitrogen), and excision (cut out the tumor).