Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer in humans. BCC tumors typically appear on sun exposed skin, are slow growing, and rarely metastasize. The clinical presentation of this disease includes the nodular, cystic, pigmented, sclerosing and superficial types of BCC. Environmental factors are believed to predispose to this condition and include a prolonged and sustained exposure to sunlight, artificial ultraviolet light, ionizing radiation, arsenic exposure and a contaminated water source. Immunosuppression is also believed to be one of its causes. BCC is seen mostly in old age; and men are affected twice as often as women.
The conventional treatment of BCC consists of removal of the tumor using either surgery or local applications. This usually succeeds in eradicating the tumor. However, there is a 35% chance of developing another tumor within 3 years, and a 50% chance of developing another tumor within 5 years. Therefore, regular and periodic screening of patients is important. Ayurvedic treatment is recommended in patients with a documented recurrence, or in patients having large or deeply infiltrating tumors which have a higher chance of spreading to other parts of the body. In such situations, Ayurvedic treatment is aimed at treating the local tumor and preventing or controlling the spread of the tumor cells. Medicines like Triphala-Guggulu, Arogya-Vardhini, Chandraprabha-Vati, Gandhak-Rasayan and Sukshma-Triphala are given in high doses to help eradicate the local tumor. Local applications of medicated pastes can be made using medicines like Triphala (Three fruits), Trikatu (Three pungent herbs), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Haridra (Curcuma longa) and Yav-Kshar. Some physicians recommend localized blood-letting using leeches in order to achieve a faster therapeutic response.
In order to prevent the spread of the tumor cells to other parts of the body, medicines like Kachnaar-Guggulu, Maha-Manjishthadi-Qadha, Saarivasav, Gokshuradi-Guggulu and Punarnavadi-Guggulu are used. Immuno-modulating therapy is used to help suppress the tumor and to destroy tumor cells present in the blood and lymph. This is done using medicines like Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Suvarna-Bhasma and Heerak-Bhasma.
Regular and prolonged follow-up is essential to ensure that the cancer has responded adequately to treatment, and also to rule out a recurrence of the condition. Patients and other people prone to BCC are advised to avoid possible potentiating factors like sun exposure, radiation and tanning beds. The regular use of protective clothing and the application of sunscreen are recommended prior to sun exposure.