What are the Causes & Treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal Cell Carcinoma
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Basal Cell Carcinoma, also known as BCC is a type of skin cancer which has become very common during these last years. In the US it is reported to have achieved the crazy number of 4 million cases diagnosed each year! Below we will give you some information on the main things you need to know on this topic.

What are Basal Cells?

Basal cells are found on the epidermis; they are the ones that form its lowest layer. These cells are responsible for producing* new skin cells, which push the old cells that have to die into the surface. When something goes wrong, they will reproduce more than needed and therefore create an abnormal bundle of cells, which can turn to tumor.

Learn the Signs behind this Cancer

One of the most important things is always to catch it on time. It is often said how early treatments can be much easier and much more effective, that is why it is crucial to be aware of the signs that your skin might be giving you and have them checked. The skin cancer foundation gives these signs as the most common ones:

  • An open sore
  • An irritated area (a reddish patch)
  • A nodule or a shiny bump
  • A new growth (usually pink)
  • A scar area
Basal Cell Carcinoma

What are the Causes for Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Sun is basically the main reason, people who are over exposed to ultraviolet lights for a long time are more likely to get this type of cancer, as many studies conclude. Although it should be mentioned that it mostly happens on older people, aged 40 or above. Other factors which might be considered risk factors are:

  • Blue, green or grey eyes
  • Freckled skin, light skin complexion
  • Blond or red hair
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Experience with radiation therapy
  • Large number of moles
  • Exposure to chemicals such as arsenic, coal tar
  • Weakened immune system

This type of cancer isn’t what you would call the most dangerous, it will seldom spread to other body parts, and there are very little chances for it to become deadly. However it brings its own trouble as it is a disease after all! It can cause permanent deformations on the skin as it destroys the tissues near, and it becomes even more problematic if it grows close to eyes, ears, nose, etc.

Carcinoma Info

Finding out about BCC

Self-exam your skin! This is not hard to accomplish and it is highly important. All you need to do is stand in front of a mirror and check all your skin if there are any changes or things you hasn’t noticed before. To make your job easier I would recommend using a small mirror as well. Optimally this should be done once a month, if you can’t make it to once a month, make it once in two or three months, just please don’t get it off your agenda.

Go to a doctor! No matter how important the above mentioned step is, this one is fundamental. In the end of the day you can guess and build hypothesis, but a doctor will check your suspicious areas and give you a definite answer. A biopsy will be needed to diagnose BCC, which is practically taking a small sample of skin and doing an examination to see if there is cancer present. Sometimes the biopsy can even be sufficient to remove* the cancer.

Receiving Appropriate Treatment

Firstly, you should know that skin cancer can be cured even from a dermatologist, so when the BCC hasn’t advanced much a good dermatologist will do. If not, meaning that the disease is quite spread, another doctor is needed, such as a surgical oncologist (uses surgery as a treatment), a medical oncologist (uses medicines or chemotherapy) or a radiation oncologist (uses radiation therapy).

As you now probably understand, the types of treatment include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation treatment
  • Chemotherapy
  • Local treatment
  • Targeted therapy
Receiving appropriate treatment

Besides these, alternative or complementary treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma are worth a mention. People often find special diets, usage of vitamins and herbs, massages and acupuncture to be helpful. Although these are not thoroughly proved by science, still there are studies to back them up partially.

Conclusion

As with every other cancer not everything is up to you, sometimes it is just genetic! However you can play an important role to prevent this type of cancer by being very careful and limiting your exposure to sun. Even when you do so, be protective and wear sunglasses, hats and apply right sunscreen. Don’t forget to examine your skin and if you find anything suspicious definitely pay a visit to your doctor. In the end of the day try and stay positive however the check-up goes, it is a common disease and not impossible to cure*.

References:

  • https://ods.od.nih.gov
  • http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/basal-cell-carcinoma/the-five-warning-signs-images
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2642987/
  • http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003075-pdf.pdf
  • https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000824.htm

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.