Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer found in humans. It occurs mainly in fair-skinned people with a family history of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is a disease in which the cancer cells appear on the basal cells of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. It is estimated that approximately one million Americans are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma each year.
Basal cell carcinoma usually appears on the face, ears shoulder and neck where the skin is exposed to sunlight. However, it can also appear on other parts of body such as the abdomen, leg, and scalp exposed to sun’s ultraviolet rays. BCC, if untreated, can damage the skin and cause an ulcer known as a rodent ulcer. In few cases, contact with arsenic, exposure to radiation, open sores, lesions that do not heal, inflammatory skin conditions, and complications of burn scars, infection, vaccination, or even tattoos are contributing factors.
This type of cancer is characterized by small tumors in its early stage that can be cured with simple surgeries. However, neglected it can invade vast areas of skin. These types of cancers can also spread along the bones, cartilages, muscular tissues and more rarely, nerve tissue. Some tumors may eventually extend to eye or brain or become large enough to disfigure entire face. Very few basal cell carcinomas spread to distant organs or metastasize.
It is usually diagnosed with a skin biopsy (where tissue is taken for pathological analysis) is done using local anesthesia. Small basal cell carcinomas are removed with electrodessication and curettage method while larger basal cell carcinomas are removed by standard surgical excision. This carcinoma present on the head, scalp, face, neck, ears is treated by Mohs surgery or Mohs micrographic surgery.