Basal Cell Cancer is one the most frequently diagnosed skin cancers. It affects the basal cells, which are located in the bottom layer of the epidermis. Malignant cells proliferate excessively from the epidermis resulting in a tumor. The incidence of basal cell cancer increases with age. Almost all people diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma can expect to live at least another 5 years.
Causes of Basal Cell Cancer
It is one the most frequently diagnosed skin cancer.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the main risk factor for developing BCCs. While its occurrence is more in older people, it is becoming more common in younger people even in their 20s and 30s.
Fair-skinned people have a much greater risk for BCC. Radiation treatments, as well as immune suppression, also increase one’s risk. In western countries, those who use tanning beds also have an elevated risk for BCCs. People with several inherited disorders that manifest a greater sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation, have an increased prevalence of BCC.
Signs & Symptoms of Basal Cell Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma is seen most often on the head and neck, but can affect any area.
The typical signs of BCC are:
An open sore that has not healed in three weeks and is oozing, bleeding or crusting.
An irritated patch of skin, especially on the face, neck, chest, arms, or legs.
Any new, smooth skin nodule (bump) with a raised border and indented center. Or a smooth, shiny, or pearly bump that looks like a mole or cyst.
A scar especially on the face, with a shiny look of tight-looking skin, and poorly defined edges.
Occasional BCCs can be pigmented (dark), particularly in darker-skinned individuals. In these cases, the tumors manifest the same signs of a non-pigmented variant, except they are brown instead of pink.
A fairly common BCC variant is superficial BCC. It rarely invades and is typically confined to the epidermis. It is seen on the trunk and extremities and appears as a red, scaly plaque, with crusting. Because of its similarity in appearance and slow growth, to that of eczema or psoriasis, it becomes difficult to diagnose.
A form of BCC known as morpheaform or sclerosing BCC causes a more aggressive lesion. It looks whitish, without a defined edge, and is firm to the touch. It may look like a scar and can blend in fairly well with the surrounding skin, thus escaping detection for years, while continuing to spread. When these tumors are removed, they are surprisingly larger than expected.