Basal Cell Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer. It is one of the most common cancers in the United States. It is a slowly progressing disease and is called so as it arises from the basal cells in your skin. It commonly affects people over the age of 40 years however in recent times this condition is being commonly seen among people from the younger age group. It starts in the uppermost layer of the skin which is called as the epidermis. It is commonly seen in individuals having a light skin colour and those exposed to a lot of x-rays, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation or other types of radiation. This cancer is more commonly seen on parts of the body exposed to sun like your face and neck. It is less commonly seen on the lower extremities and trunk. However Basal Cell Carcinoma may also occur on parts of the skin not exposed to sun.
Presentation of Basal cell carcinoma: In general skin cancers appear as a bump on the surface of the skin which shows no signs of healing and bleeds on slightest touch or manipulation and develops scabs on the surface. A basal cell carcinoma most commonly appears as a pearly white bump in a person having a light complexion or dark brown bump in a person having a darker complexion on the surface of the skin and bleeds spontaneously or develops a depression in the centre. It may appear as a flat flesh coloured patch over the trunk. You must take heed if this sore doesn’t heal over a long period of time, bleeds spontaneously or on slightest touch, develops recurrent crusts and scabs on the surface.
Risk factors for development of Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal Cell carcinomas are more commonly seen in men. It is more common in people having a light complexion, and is rarely seen in blacks. You may be more prone to develop this cancer if you are exposed to sun rays or ultraviolet radiation for long periods of time. People over the age of 40 are more prone to develop this cancer, as also if you have had a basal cell carcinoma in the past you have an increased chance of developing it again or in the case your family history is positive for skin cancers you may have a higher chance of developing this cancer. People exposed to high levels of arsenic in the environment seem to have a raised chance of developing this cancer.
Diagnosis: Skin Biopsy is the best way to confirm the diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma.
Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma: Treatment depends on the type of cancer, location and extent of cancer. Cryosurgery is one of the techniques used to remove the cancer and is used to treat cancers which have not spread deep into the skin and are quite superficial. Surgical excision can be done with removal of a small amount of surrounding healthy area of skin. Electrodessication may be done following curetting the lesion.
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