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Is Basal Skin Cancer Serious

What Are The Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Dr. Ranj – How to Spot Skin Cancer

BCCs usually develop on parts of the body that are often exposed to the sun, like the head, face, shoulders, arms and lower legs.

They often start with a subtle change in the skin, like a small bump or a flat red patch.

Signs of a BCC to look for include:

  • a pearly spot or lump
  • a scaly, dry area that is shiny and pale or bright pink in colour
  • a sore that doesnt heal
  • a sore that bleeds

See your doctor if you notice any new spots or an existing spot that changes size, shape or colour. Visit the Cancer Councils website for tips on how to check your skin.

How Do You Prevent Basal Cell Skin Cancer

The best way to prevent basal cell carcinoma and other skin cancers is to protect the skin from the sun.

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, and reapply every 2 hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid the midday sun, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the suns rays are the strongest.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Examine your skin regularly for new moles, spots, bumps, or growths, and inform your doctor of any skin changes.

In patients who are at higher risk for recurrence of basal cell carcinoma, certain medications may be used, however, studies on the effectiveness of these medications have had mixed results.

  • Celecoxib , a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug , may offer modest risk reduction, but studies on its effectiveness for preventing tumors are mixed.
  • Oral nicotinamide is a vitamin supplement available over the counter. Additional studies are needed to determine its effectiveness in preventing skin cancers. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements because of possible side effects or drug interactions.
  • Topical fluorouracil has been shown to help prevent other skin conditions and precursors to basal cell carcinoma, however, the data are mixed on whether it may help prevent BCC.

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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.

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Skin Cancer Support Groups And Counseling

Living with skin cancer presents many new challenges for you and for your family and friends. You will probably have many worries about how the cancer will affect you and your ability to live a normal life, that is, to care for your family and home, to hold your job, and to continue the friendships and activities you enjoy.

Many people with a skin cancer diagnosis feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated. For most people with skin cancer, talking about their feelings and concerns helps. Your friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Dont wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about your concerns, let them know.

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Some people dont want to burden their loved ones, or prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful. Your dermatologist or oncologist should be able to recommend someone.

Many people with cancer are profoundly helped by talking to other people who have cancer. Sharing your concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups for people with cancer may be available through the medical center where you are receiving your treatment. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups throughout the U.S.

Melanoma: The Deadliest Skin Cancer

How Serious Is Basal Cell Skin Cancer

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, because it tends to spread if its not treated early.

This cancer starts in the melanocytes cells in the epidermis that make pigment.

About 100,350 new melanomas are diagnosed each year.

Risk factors for melanoma include:

  • Having fair skin, light eyes, freckles, or red or blond hair
  • Having a history of blistering sunburns
  • Being exposed to sunlight or tanning beds
  • Living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation
  • Having a family history of melanoma
  • Having many moles or unusual-looking moles
  • Having a weakened immune system

Melanoma can develop within a mole that you already have, or it can pop up as a new dark spot on your skin.

This cancer can form anywhere on your body, but it most often affects areas that have had sun exposure, such as the back, legs, arms, and face. Melanomas can also develop on the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, or fingernail beds.

Signs to watch out for include:

  • A mole that changes in color, size, or how it feels
  • A mole that bleeds

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Different Kinds Of Skin Cancer

There are many types of skin cancer. Some are very rare. Your doctor can tell you more about the type you have.

The two most common kinds of skin cancers are:

  • Basal cell cancer, which starts in the lowest layer of the skin
  • Squamous cell cancer, which starts in the top layer of the skin

Another kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. These cancers start from the color-making cells of the skin . You can read about melanoma in If You Have Melanoma Skin Cancer.

Where Do Skin Cancers Start

Most skin cancers start in the top layer of skin, called the epidermis. There are 3 main types of cells in this layer:

  • Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the upper part of the epidermis, which are constantly shed as new ones form. When these cells grow out of control, they can develop into squamous cell skin cancer .
  • Basal cells: These cells are in the lower part of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cells constantly divide to form new cells to replace the squamous cells that wear off the skins surface. As these cells move up in the epidermis, they get flatter, eventually becoming squamous cells. Skin cancers that start in the basal cell layer are called basal cell skin cancers or basal cell carcinomas.
  • Melanocytes: These cells make the brown pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its tan or brown color. Melanin acts as the bodys natural sunscreen, protecting the deeper layers of the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma skin cancer starts in these cells.

The epidermis is separated from the deeper layers of skin by the basement membrane. When a skin cancer becomes more advanced, it generally grows through this barrier and into the deeper layers.

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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.

The skin

Ask your doctor to use this picture to show you where your cancer is

How Does The Doctor Know I Have Skin Cancer

Skin cancer types treatment: melanoma basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma

Basal and squamous skin cancer may look like:

  • Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas that look a lot like a scar
  • Raised reddish patches that might itch
  • Rough or scaly red patches, which might crust or bleed
  • Small, pink or red, shiny, pearly bumps, which might have blue, brown, or black areas
  • Pink growths or lumps with raised edges and a lower center
  • Open sores that dont heal, or that heal and then come back
  • Wart-like growths

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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.

Which Is More Serious Basal Cell Or Squamous Cell Carcinoma

basal cellsquamous cellmore serious

Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers in the United States and is the most common of all cancers. Typically, it is a slow-growing cancer that seldom spreads to other parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma also rarely spreads, but does so more often than basal cell carcinoma.

Beside above, how do you know if squamous cell skin cancer has spread? A biopsy is the only way to tell for sure if you have skin cancer and what kind it is. In rare cases basal and squamous cell skin cancer can spread to the nearby lymph nodes Ask your doctor if your lymph nodes will be tested.

Correspondingly, how serious is squamous cell skin cancer?

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is usually not life-threatening, though it can be aggressive. Untreated, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can grow large or spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.

Is squamous cell carcinoma a fast growing cancer?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma SCC is generally a slow growing tumor that tends to grow without physical symptoms. However, some forms of this cancer may be fast growing and painful, especially when the lesions are large. They may become irritated and bleed.

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When Should I See My Doctor

If you have had one BCC, you have a 50% chance of developing another one, so it is important to check your skin regularly.

Most people find BCCs by checking their own skin and looking for changes. See a doctor if you find:

  • a spot that is different from other spots on your skin
  • a spot that has changed size, shape, colour or texture
  • a sore that doesnt heal
  • a sore that is itchy or bleeds

Other Factors That Can Affect Outlook And Treatment Options

Basal cell carcinoma skin cancer

The stage of a skin cancer can help give an idea of how serious the cancer is likely to be, including how likely it might be to return after treatment. But other factors are also important to consider. Some of these include:

  • The location of the tumor
  • How fast the tumor has been growing
  • How well-defined the borders of the tumor are
  • If the tumor has been causing symptoms, such as pain or itchiness
  • How the cancer cells look under a microscope
  • If the cancer cells have invaded small nerves or blood vessels in and around the tumor
  • If the cancer is in a place that was previously treated with radiation
  • If the person has a weakened immune system

Your doctor can explain if any of these factors might affect your treatment or outlook.

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Leaving Squamous Cell Carcinoma Untreated

The third type of skin cancer we have to be cautious of in Australia is squamous cell carcinoma. This is potentially life threatening and is most dangerous when found on the face, lips, ears or neck. As it grows, there is the chance it may spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, and while it isnt as fast growing as melanoma, it still requires treatment.

You may notice squamous cell carcinoma in the top layer of your skin and it will likely be red and scaly. Surgery is often used for removal, but if it has progressed significantly some reconstruction to the face may be needed. This is the second most common form of skin cancer, and can be quite painful to touch.

All skin cancer has the potential to be fatal, and regular checks and any necessary treatment is recommended. Melanoma is by far the most serious form of skin cancer, and if suspected you should seek an urgent skin check. Please contact My Skin Centre to book your appointment in the Perth region.

Looking Out For Basal Cell Carcinoma

Sometimes basal cell carcinoma is overlooked because it doesnt “look like cancer.” It might appear as a small dome shaped skin growth or a shiny or slightly scaly pink or red patch. It might be skin colored and resemble a scar. It might be a small pink dot on your skin. It could look like a sore.

Regular skin checks are important. When you complete self-skin checks monthly, you notice if new spots or lesions appear. Some of the warning signs of BCC that should be checked by a dermatologist, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, are:

  • An open sore that doesnt heal or that starts to heal and then opens up again.

  • A skin bump that is pearly, waxy, or red and scaly.

  • A scar-like spot without having had an injury.

  • A spot that oozes or crusts.

  • A spot with irregular blood vessels around it.

  • A sore that has a depressed center.

As always, if you have a sore or spot that changes in appearance, color, size or texture, you should contact your dermatologist.

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Medical Treatment For Skin Cancer

Surgical removal is the mainstay of skin cancer treatment for both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. For more information, see Surgery.People who cannot undergo surgery may be treated by external radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is the use of a small beam of radiation targeted at the skin lesion. The radiation kills the abnormal cells and destroys the lesion. Radiation therapy can cause irritation or burning of the surrounding normal skin. It can also cause fatigue. These side effects are temporary. In addition, topical chemotherapy creams have been FDA approved for the treatment of certain low-risk nonmelanoma skin cancers. Patients with advanced or many basal cell carcinomas are sometimes prescribed oral pills to block the growth of these cancers. Side effects include muscle spasms, hair loss, taste changes, weight loss and fatigue.

In advanced cases of melanoma, immune therapies, vaccines, or chemotherapy may be used. These treatments are typically offered as clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies of new therapies to see if they can be tolerated and work better than existing therapies.

What It Looks Like

How Dangerous are Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell cancer involves the runaway growth of keratinocytes, cells in the outermost layer of skin, which produce the protein keratin. Squamous means scaly; in 60%80% of cases, the lesions emerge on or near scaly patches called actinic keratoses that develop from sun-damaged skin.

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What Is A Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs when there is damage to the DNA of basal cells in the top layer, or epidermis, of the skin. They are called basal cells because they are the deepest cells in the epidermis. In normal skin, the basal cells are less than one one-hundredth of an inch deep, but once a cancer has developed, it will spread deeper.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Basal Cell Skin Cancer

A doctor will get a medical history and perform a physical examination and then perform a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnoses of basal cell carcinoma. There are two types of skin biopsies that may be indicated:

  • Shave biopsy: A small tool resembling a razor scrapes off a small area of the skin. This may be all that is needed.
  • Punch biopsy: A circular tool punches through the deeper layers of skin.

Imaging studies are usually unnecessary, but if the cancer is suspected to have spread to deeper structures such as bone, then your doctor may use computed tomography scans or X-ray.

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Causes Of Basal Cell Cancer

The most common cause of basal cell carcinoma is damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, which occurs from sun exposure or use of tanning beds. When damaged, the basal cells can change and multiply uncontrollably.

This type of skin cancer is usually found on the head and neck but can be found anywhere on the body.

The most common types of basal cell cancer include:

  • Nodular basal cell carcinoma shiny, smooth nodules with a dip in the center and rolled edges
  • Superficial spreading basal cell carcinoma shallow, scaly and irregular plaques that are either pink or skin-toned.
  • Sclerosing basal cell carcinoma small, waxy white scars that may expand over time
  • Pigmented basal cell carcinoma dark blue, brown or black spots

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