How Fast Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Grow
From what I have read, basal cell carcinoma tends to be slow growing. What exactly does that mean? I am 43 years old and have a BCC located just below my nose and scheduled for Mohs surgery on Tuesday. I have had the BCC for at least 5 years, probably longer. My surgeon tells me that there is no way to know how much tissue will be removed until surgery. Immediately following the Mohs surgery, I will see a plastic surgeon to repair the wound. My bcc is pink slightly elevated with a rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. When i went to the dermatologist, he knew right away just from looking at it that it was a BCC, biopsy confirmed. Do they grow at a certain rate? I just want to be prepared. Any information will be helpful.
What Happens If A Basal Cell Carcinoma Is Not Treated
A basal cell carcinoma is one of the more common forms of skin cancers and, fortunately, one of the most treatable, says Dr. Adam Mamelak, board certified dermatologist and skin cancer specialist in Austin, Texas.
Basal cell carcinoma is most commonly caused by exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or a tanning bed. Gradually, the effects of exposure damage the DNA, resulting in the development of cancer. The process can take anywhere from weeks to months to several years before it becomes noticeable.
Basal cell carcinomas can look different. They can appear as tiny, pearl shaped bumps. They can also manifest as shiny red or pink patches that feel slightly scaly. They are fragile and can bleed easily. Some appear to be dark against the surrounding skin, while others will break down and create a sore or ulcer on the skin.
If Dr. Mamelak suspects his patients have a basal cell carcinoma, he often does a biopsy on the growth to see if cancer cells are present. Dr. Mamelak also asks his patients a number of questions about their potential risk factors, including how often they are out in the sun, whether or not they use a tanning bed, and what kind of sunblock they use, if any.
What happens if a basal cell carcinoma is not treated?
What Are The Risk Factors For Skin Cancer
The most common risk factors for skin cancer are as follows.
- Ultraviolet light exposure, either from the sun or from tanning beds. Fair-skinned individuals, with hazel or blue eyes, and people with blond or red hair are particularly vulnerable. The problem is worse in areas of high elevation or near the equator where sunlight exposure is more intense.
- A chronically suppressed immune system from underlying diseases such as HIV/AIDS infection or cancer, or from some medications such as prednisone or chemotherapy
- Exposure to ionizing radiation or chemicals known to predispose to cancer such as arsenic
- Certain types of sexually acquired wart virus infections
- People who have a history of one skin cancer have a 20% chance of developing second skin cancer in the next two years.
- Elderly patients have more skin cancers.
Most basal cell carcinomas have few if any symptoms. Squamous cell carcinomas may be painful. Both forms of skin cancer may appear as a sore that bleeds, oozes, crusts, or otherwise will not heal. They begin as a slowly growing bump on the skin that may bleed after minor trauma. Both kinds of skin cancers may have raised edges and central ulceration.
Signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinomas include:
Signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinomas include:
- Persistent, scaly red patches with irregular borders that may bleed easily
- Open sore that does not go away for weeks
- A raised growth with a rough surface that is indented in the middle
- A wart-like growth
Read Also: Body Cancer Symptoms
If You Have Basal Or Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Non
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, over 5 million cases of basal cell and squamous cell cancers are diagnosed every year.Though, basal cell carcinoma occurs more often, taking credit for about 80% of these cases Basal cell carcinoma is most commonly caused by exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or a tanning bed. Gradually, the effects of exposure damage the DNA, resulting in the development of cancer. The process can take anywhere from weeks to months to several years before it becomes noticeable Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It accounts for more than 80 percent of skin cancer diagnoses. It forms in the basal cells and is found on parts of the body heavily. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in humans. It is responsible for around 75% of nonmelanoma skin cancers and almost 25% of all cancers in the United States. 1 Studies have shown that the incidence of basal cell carcinoma is increasing from 3% to 10% annually. 2 This is commonly seen in elderly patients in sun-exposed areas, and affects men more than women.
You May Like: Is Cancer Painful Without Treatment
Basal Cell Carcinoma Types And Symptoms
A basal cell lesion is often described as a pearly papule because it has a slight shine. These papules are elevated above the surface of the skin and are generally the same color or slightly lighter than the surrounding skin.
Different symptoms and features may develop in some cases, including:
- Telangiectasias: These small dilated blood vessels can form in areas affected by BCC. These lesions appear pink, red, or purplish.
- Discoloration: The cancerous areas on the skin can appear dark or brownish due to the presence of dead cells.
- Itchiness around the lesion
- Lesion that looks like a persistent, non-healing wound
BCC lesions can appear suddenly. They may start at a size of 1 centimeter and continue to grow in size after they initially appear, becoming more noticeable with time.
Basal cell carcinoma lesions usually appear on areas of the body that have been exposed to sunlight, especially high levels of sunlight, including the face, ears, arms, legs, back, and abdomen. BCC can also occur in areas that aren’t exposed to UV at all, such as the scalp, though this is not common.
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Radiation And Immunologic Origins
Radiation has proven to be tumorigenic by two mechanisms. The first entails the initiations of prolonged cellular proliferation, thereby increasing the likelihood of transcription errors that can lead to cellular transformation. The second mechanism is direct damage of DNA replication, leading to cellular mutation that may activate proto-oncogenes or deactivate tumor suppressor genes.
Immunologically, the mechanism by which prolonged ultraviolet radiation exposure leads to the development of BCC includes suppression of the cutaneous immune system and immunologic unresponsiveness to cutaneous tumors. This local effect includes a decrease in Langerhans cells, dendritic epidermal T cells, and Thy1+ cells. Furthermore, systemic proliferation of suppressor T cells and the release of immunosuppressive factors are believed to be pathogenic to the development of BCC.
Read Also: How Fast Does Squamous Cell Carcinoma Spread
Treating Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinomas must be removed. Methods include
- and curettage
A painstaking procedure called Mohs surgery minimizes the amount of tissue removed. It is often performed when the cancer is located in the skin folds around the nose, at the corners of the eyes, and around the ears.
If you have had one basal cell carcinoma, you are at higher risk of developing others. Regular checkups are recommended for five years after removal of a basal cell carcinoma to make sure the cancer has not returned, and no new ones have appeared.
Don’t Miss: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 3 Survival Rate
What Are The Symptoms Of Basal Cell Cancer Of The Head And Neck
Basal cell cancers usually present as an abnormal growth on the skin. The growth may have the appearance of a wart, crusty spot, reddish patch, mole, nodule or bump, or a sore that does not heal. It may or may not bleed and can sometimes be painful. These are usually slow-growing tumors that begin as small spots on sun-exposed areas of the face. Because they can have such a range of appearances, any new persistent skin lesion should be evaluated.
Johns Hopkins Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Specialists
Our head and neck surgeons and speech language pathologists take a proactive approach to cancer treatment. Meet the Johns Hopkins specialists who will work closely with you during your journey.
Diagnosing Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The main way to diagnose squamous cell carcinoma is with a biopsy. This involves having a small piece of tissue removed from the suspicious area and examined in a laboratory.
In the laboratory, a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if it is a skin cancer. He or she will also stage the cancer by the number of abnormal cells, their thickness, and the depth of penetration into the skin. The higher the stage of the tumor, the greater the chance it could spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma on sun-exposed areas of skin usually does not spread. However, squamous cell carcinoma of the lip, vulva, and penis are more likely to spread. Contact your doctor about any sore in these areas that does not go away after several weeks.
Also Check: Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer Survival Rate
What Is Skin Cancer
Cancer can start any place in the body. Skin cancer starts when cells in the skin grow out of control.
Skin cancer cells can sometimes spread to other parts of the body, but this is not common. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis. To doctors, the cancer cells in the new place look just like the ones from the skin.
Cancer is always named based on the place where it starts. So if skin cancer spreads to another part of the body, its still called skin cancer.
Ask your doctor to use this picture to show you where your cancer is
What You Can Do
If youve already had a BCC, you have an increased chance of developing another, especially in the same sun-damaged area or nearby.
A BCC can recur even when it has been carefully removed the first time, because some cancer cells may remain undetectable after surgery and others can form roots that extend beyond whats visible. BCCs on the nose, ears and lips are more likely to recur, usually within the first two years after surgery.
Heres what you can do to detect a recurrence and safeguard yourself against further skin damage that can lead to cancer:
Recommended Reading: Does Melanoma Blanch When Pressed
What Are Basal And Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common types of skin cancer. They start in the top layer of skin , and are often related to sun exposure.
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer cells. To learn more about cancer and how it starts and spreads, see What Is Cancer?
Also Check: Invasive Mammary Carcinoma Survival Rate
What Makes Yale Medicines Approach To Basal Cell Carcinoma Unique
Yale Medicine receives referrals from community dermatologists all over the country. We receive a very high volume of referrals, so regardless of how unusual the case may be, it’s likely we’ve seen it before, says Dr. Christensen. We work closely with a team of specialized skin pathologists in our dermatopathology lab who evaluate skin samples that could be cancerous or pre-cancerous. Then, our dermatologic surgeons use their expertise to safely remove these spots.
Don’t Miss: Melanoma 3c
What Is A Basal Cell
One of three main types of cells in the top layer of the skin, basal cells shed as new ones form. BCC most often occurs when DNA damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or indoor tanning triggers changes in basal cells in the outermost layer of skin , resulting in uncontrolled growth.
Prognosis Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Treatment of basal cell carcinoma is nearly always successful, and the cancer is rarely fatal. However, almost 25% of people with a history of basal cell carcinoma develop a new basal cell cancer within 5 years of the first one. Thus, anyone with one basal cell carcinoma should have a yearly skin examination.
Also Check: Chances Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Spreading
How Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Diagnosed
Your physician will likely take the following steps to diagnose basal cell carcinoma:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will look you over for evidence of a cancerous growth. He or she will also ask questions about your medical history and possible risk factors.
- Biopsy: To confirm the presence of cancer, your physician will collect a tiny sample of any lesion he or she finds, called a biopsy. The biopsy will be sent to a medical lab for analysis. You will receive test results in a few days to a couple of weeks
Let’s Talk About Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The second most common type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma is also frequently caused by sun exposure or tanning bed use. Like basal cells, squamous cells can grow deep into the skin. However, unlike basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma can spread to lymph nodes and other organs.
Also Check: Metastatic Skin Cancer Pictures
How Dangerous Is A Basal Cell Carcinoma
While melanoma rightly deserves the attention it receives as the most dangerous form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma isnt something to brush off as harmless. Yes, this most common form of skin cancer rarely causes fatalities, but it can become quite disfiguring.
While basal cell carcinoma lesions rarely spread beyond the original tumor site, they should not be allowed to grow freely. These lesions can grow widely, penetrating deeply into the skin destroying skin, tissue, and bone. Plus, the longer you leave a basal cell carcinoma untreated, the more likely it is to come back. And because it will usually return in the same area, this can create problems removing the lesions without overly disfiguring the patient.
How Fast Does Skin Cancer Grow
Skin cancer starts when cells in the skin grow out of control. Some forms of skin cancer tend to grow in a matter of weeks, while others grow over months or longer. While a number of factors determine how fast or slow skin cancer may grow in any one individual, some types of skin cancer are more aggressive than others. In the space below, we look at typical growth rates for some specific types of cancer.
You May Like: Melanoma 3b
Three Different Types Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
There are different types of basal cell carcinoma. They differ by the way they grow in the skin, the appearance and how deep down in the skin the cancer is.
Superficial basal cell cancer
Superficial, or superficiell, basal cell cancer looks like a red stain. Sometimes there can be cuts and scaly like. It can be misinterpreted as a small eczema patch. It usually on your chest or back, but it can also be on your face.
Knot formed basal cell cancer
Knot formed, or nodular, basal cell cancer grows deeper into the skin. It is a clearly defined knot. It can be the same color as your own skin or be pale red and slightly translucent with small red blood vessels. Eventually a raised edge is formed. Sometimes, ulcers and crusts appear on the cancer tumor. It usually sits on the face or on the neck, but can also sit on the upper body.
Aggressive basal cell cancer
Aggressive, infiltrative or morfeiform basal cell carcinoma grows in a deeper, more diffuse way. It may look like a hard, whiteish, scar like, flat changes in the skin. Sometimes it is difficult to see the cancer and to determine how big it is by only looking at it with the naked eye. One or more wounds can appear when in it grows. It is common for the cancer tumor to sit on the face, around the nose or around the eyes.
Online dermatology question
Basal Cell Carcinoma Stages
There are certain features that are considered to make the cancer at higher risk for spreading or recurrence, and these may also be used to stage basal cell carcinomas. These include:
- Greater than 2 mm in thickness
- Invasion into the lower dermis or subcutis layers of the skin
- Invasion into the tiny nerves in the skin
- Location on the ear or on a hair-bearing lip
After the TNM components and risk factors have been established, the cancer is given a stage. For basal cell carcinoma staging, the factors are grouped and labeled 0 to 4. The characteristics and stages of basal cell carcinoma are:
Stage 0: Also called carcinoma in situ, cancer discovered in this stage is only present in the epidermis and has not spread deeper to the dermis.
Stage 1 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer is less than 2 centimeters, about 4/5 of an inch across, has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, and has one or fewer high-risk features.
Stage 2 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer is larger than 2 centimeters across, and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, or a tumor of any size with 2 or more high-risk features.
Stage 3 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer has spread into facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but not to other organs.
Stage 4 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer can be any size and has spread to 1 or more lymph nodes which are larger than 3 cm and may have spread to bones or other organs in the body.
Read Also: How Fast Does Squamous Cell Carcinoma Spread