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What Causes Basal Cell Skin Cancer

When Should I See My Doctor

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Skin Cancer

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

Dont Leave Basal Cell Carcinoma Untreated

Now that you know what happens if you leave basal cell carcinoma untreated, its time to take action on your skin cancer diagnosis. To learn more about how IG-SRT works, contact our skin cancer specialist team at 855-222-6858. We can answer your questions and help you understand whether IG-SRT is right for you.

Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer impacts the lives of 4 million Americans each year. GentleCure is committed to raising awareness of IG-SRT and is a trademark owned by SkinCure Oncology, LLC.

The information on this website is provided without any representations or warranties. You should not rely on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider. The information on this site, as well as any information provided by the skin cancer information specialists on our educational hotline, is intended to help you make a better-informed treatment decision in conjunction with trained and licensed medical professionals.

Who Gets Basal Cell Carcinoma

Risk factors for BCC include:

  • Age and sex: BCCs are particularly prevalent in elderly males. However, they also affect females and younger adults
  • Repeated prior episodes of sunburn
  • Fair skin, blue eyes and blond or red hairnote BCC can also affect darker skin types
  • Previous cutaneous injury, thermal burn, disease
  • Inherited syndromes: BCC is a particular problem for families with basal cell naevus syndrome , Bazex-Dupré-Christol syndrome, Rombo syndrome, Oley syndrome and xeroderma pigmentosum
  • Other risk factors include ionising radiation, exposure to arsenic, and immune suppression due to disease or medicines

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What Does A Basal Cell Carcinoma Look Like

BCCs can vary greatly in their appearance, but people often first become aware of them as a scab that bleeds and does not heal completely or a new lump on the skin. Some BCCs are superficial and look like a scaly red flat mark on the skin. Others form a lump and have a pearl-like rim surrounding a central crater and there may be small red blood vessels present across the surface. If left untreated, BCCs can eventually cause an ulcer hence the name rodent ulcer. Most BCCs are painless, although sometimes they can be itchy or bleed if caught.

What Happens If Squamous Cell Carcinoma Is Left Untreated

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is relatively common, slow-growing, and at low risk to metastasize in most cases. This form of skin cancer is also likely to develop on the areas of the body that are exposed to sunlight like the face, hands, neck, shoulders, and lower legs, especially for people who have a history of sunburns. Unlike the smooth appearance of basal cell carcinoma lesions, squamous cell carcinoma tumors often appear as rough, thickened, scaly patches of skin. The growths may appear wart-like or like a donut shape. Squamous cell carcinoma lesions may form sores and bleed often or develop into a large, thick, and firm mass. Squamous cell carcinoma typically impacts people over the age of 50. While the condition does spread slowly, the risk that squamous cell carcinoma will spread to other parts of the body is higher than that of basal cell carcinoma. Additionally, these have the potential to arise suddenly and grow rapidly in some cases.

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What Is The Best Treatment For A Basal Cell Carcinoma

Pro Tip

If treated when small, basal cell carcinomas are easily removed. Dr. MacCormack

If you think you may have skin cancer, make an appointment with a dermatologist . They will examine the lump or sore and also the rest of your body for any other suspicious spots.

If skin cancer is suspected, the doctor will want to scrape or cut off a small piece of the lesion so it can be examined and tested for basal cell carcinoma cells in a laboratory.

If a biopsy confirms BCC, the dermatologist will likely offer several treatment options. Possibilities include in-office surgical procedures to remove the lesion, radiation therapy, or certain medications.

The type of treatment will depend on the size and location of the tumor, plus patient preference where possible. Your dermatologist will help you decide which approach is right for you.

Key Points About Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Basal cell carcinomas are a type of non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • They often appear as a pale, pink or pearly smooth lump.
  • Although more common among older people, they can develop in people in their early 40s or even younger.
  • Most basal cell carcinomas are caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, so almost all occur on parts of your body that get the most sun.
  • They tend to be slow growing and very rarely spread to other parts of your body. Therefore they are almost never a danger to life.
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    The Dangers Of Untreated Skin Cancer

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. Brought on typically by overexposure of UV rays , skin cancer can be prevented and oftentimes easily treated. However, if left untreated, no matter which type of skin cancer you have, it will undoubtedly cause severe health complications and may even lead to death. Lets break it down a bit and walk you through what would happen if skin cancer were left untreated.

    Risk Factors Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Ask Dr. Seitz: Identifying and treating basal cell skin cancer

    Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Some risk factors are out of your control, such as your complexion or family history. However, some risk factors, such as exposure to ultraviolet light, are factors you can control. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor.

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    Risk Factors For Basal Cell Carcinoma

    This section focuses on risk factors in individuals at increased hereditary risk of developing BCC.

    Sun exposure

    Sun exposure is the major known environmental factor associated with the development of skin cancer of all types. There are different patterns of sun exposure associated with each major type of skin cancer .

    Pigmentary characteristics

    The high-risk phenotype consists of individuals with the following physical characteristics:

    • Fair skin that sunburns easily.
    • Lightly pigmented irides .
    • Presence of freckles in sun-exposed skin.
    • Poor ability to tan.
    • Blond or red hair color.

    Specifically, people with more highly pigmented skin demonstrate lower incidence of BCC than do people with lighter pigmented skin. Individuals with Fitzpatrick type I or II skin were shown to have a twofold increased risk of BCC in a small case-control study. Blond or red hair color was associated with increased risk of BCC in two large cohorts: the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. In women from the Nurses Health Study, there was an increased risk of BCC in women with red hair relative to those with light brown hair . In men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, the risk of BCC associated with red hair was not as large and was not significant after adjustment for melanoma family history and sunburn history. Risk associated with blond hair was also increased for both men and women , and dark brown hair was protective against BCC .

    Family history

    How Can Basal Cell Carcinoma Be Prevented

    The most important way to prevent BCC is to avoid sunburn. This is especially important in childhood and early life. Fair skinned individuals and those with a personal or family history of BCC should protect their skin from sun exposure daily, year-round and lifelong.

    • Stay indoors or under the shade in the middle of the day

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    Types Of This Condition

    Basal Cell Skin Cancer may be of the following types

    • Nodular basal cell cancer of the skin: Most common BCC, seen as round flesh-colored with prominent blood vessels
    • Infiltrative basal cell cancer of the skin: The BCC infiltrates the deeper layer and is not very visible clinically
    • Micronodular basal cell cancer of the skin: This type of BCC has a well-defined border, is hard to touch, and does not ulcerate
    • Morpheaform basal cell cancer of the skin: This type of BCC is ls flat or depressed, firm and waxy to touch, white or yellow
    • Superficial basal cell cancer of the skin: This type of BCC is seen usually on the shoulders or the trunk is like a whitish scaly plaque

    Questions About Skin Cancer Risk Factors And Prevention

    Basal Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Photograph by Dr P ...

    How can I reduce my risk of getting skin cancer?

    Exposure to UV radiation is the primary cause of cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. One important way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to avoid sun exposure when possible and/or protect yourself from damaging rays. Consider following these tips:

    What is ultraviolet radiation?

    UV radiation is among several types of light emitted by the sun. Its also a carcinogen. Most of the UV light that reaches the earth is UVA, the long-wave ultraviolet rays that penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays. These strong rays can reach the skins deepest layers, where melanocytes are located. Melanocytes absorb UVA, producing the pigment melanin, which darkens the skin. But too much UVA may damage melanocytes, potentially causing melanoma. UVB rays are not nearly as prevalent or potent, but they may burn the outer layers of skin.

    How do I examine myself for skin cancer?

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    The Risks The Causes What You Can Do

    Basal cell carcinoma is caused by damage and subsequent DNA changes to the basal cells in the outermost layer of skin. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning is the major cause of BCCs and most skin cancers.

    Understanding what causes BCC and the factors that increase your risk of getting it can help you prevent the disease or detect it in its earliest stages, when its easiest to treat.

    These factors increase your BCC risk:

    Southern Cross Medical Library

    The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.

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    How Widespread Is Bcc

    Basal cell carcinoma is quite common, and the number of reported cases in the U.S. has steadily increased.

    • An estimated 3.6 million Americans are diagnosed with BCC each year.
    • More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs.
    • The diagnosis and treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers, including BCC and squamous cell carcinoma , increased up to 77 percent between 1994 and 2014.

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    How Dangerous Is Bcc

    What is Basal Cell Skin Cancer? – Basal Cell Cancer Explained [2019] [Dermatology]

    While BCCs rarely spread beyond the original tumor site, if allowed to grow, these lesions can be disfiguring and dangerous. Untreated BCCs can become locally invasive, grow wide and deep into the skin and destroy skin, tissue and bone. The longer you wait to have a BCC treated, the more likely it is to recur, sometimes repeatedly.

    There are some highly unusual, aggressive cases when BCC spreads to other parts of the body. In even rarer instances, this type of BCC can become life-threatening.

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    Mohs Microscopically Controlled Surgery

    Because skin cancer cells often have spread beyond the edges of the visible patch on the skin, doctors sometimes use a special surgical technique to make sure they remove all of the cancer. In this technique, called Mohs microscopically controlled surgery or Mohs micrographic surgery, doctors first remove the visible tumor and then begin cutting away the edges of the wound bit by bit. During surgery, doctors examine pieces of tissue to look for cancer cells. Tissue removal from the area continues until the samples no longer contain cancer cells. This procedure enables doctors to limit the amount of tissue removed and thus is especially useful for cancers near such important sites as the eye.

    After removing all of the cancer, doctors decide how best to replace the skin that has been cut away. They may bring the edges of the remaining skin together with sutures or use a skin graft or skin flap. Or they may place dressings on top of the wound and let the skin heal on its own.

    Mohs surgery reduces recurrence rates for skin cancers. This surgery is useful for basal cell and squamous cell cancers but is less often used for melanoma.

    Treatment Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

    • Removal of the tumor

    Doctors may remove the cancer in the office by scraping and burning it with an electric needle or by cutting it out. Doctors may destroy the cancer by using extreme cold .

    Certain chemotherapy drugs may be applied to the skin. Photodynamic therapy , in which chemicals and a laser are applied to the skin, also may be used. Occasionally, radiation therapy is used.

    A technique called Mohs microscopically controlled surgery may be required for some basal cell carcinomas that are large or regrow or occur in certain areas, such as around the nose and eyes.

    People whose cancer has spread to nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body and who are not candidates for surgery or radiation therapy may be given the drug vismodegib or sonidegib taken by mouth.

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    Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented

    In most cases, skin cancer can be prevented. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid too much sunlight and sunburns. Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage the skin, and over time lead to skin cancer.

    Here are ways to protect yourself from skin cancer:

    • Seek shade. Dont spend long periods of time in direct sunlight.
    • Wear hats with wide brims to protect your face and ears.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your arms and legs.
    • Use broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher that protect against burning and tanning rays. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside.
    • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
    • Use a lip balm with sunscreen.
    • Avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
    • Show any changing mole to your healthcare provider.

    Medical Treatment For Skin Cancer

    Basal cell carcinoma skin cancer

    Surgical removal is the mainstay of therapy 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, a topical cream has recently been approved for the treatment of certain low-risk nonmelanoma skin cancers.

    In advanced cases, 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.

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    Putative Genes For Basal Cell Carcinoma

    BRCA1-associated protein 1

    Pathogenic variants in the BAP1 gene are associated with an increased risk of a variety of cancers, including cutaneous melanoma and uveal melanoma. Although the BCC penetrance in individuals with pathogenic variants in BAP1 is not known, there are several BAP1 families that report diagnoses of BCC. In one study, pathogenic variant carriers from four families reported diagnoses of BCC. Tumor evaluation of BAP1 showed loss of BAP1 protein expression by immunohistochemistry in BCCs of two germline BAP1 pathogenic variant carriers but not in 53 sporadic BCCs. A second report noted that four individuals from families with BAP1 germline pathogenic variants were diagnosed with a total of 19 BCCs. Complete loss of BAP1 nuclear expression was observed in 17 of 19 BCCs from these individuals but none of 22 control BCC specimens. Loss of BAP1 nuclear expression was also reported in a series of 7 BCCs from individuals with loss of function BAP1 variants, but only in 1 of 31 sporadic BCCs.

    Structure Of The Skin

    The genetics of skin cancer is an extremely broad topic. There are more than 100 types of tumors that are clinically apparent on the skin many of these are known to have familial components, either in isolation or as part of a syndrome with other features. This is, in part, because the skin itself is a complex organ made up of multiple cell types. Furthermore, many of these cell types can undergo malignant transformation at various points in their differentiation, leading to tumors with distinct histology and dramatically different biological behaviors, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell cancer . These have been called nonmelanoma skin cancers or keratinocyte cancers.

    Figure 1 is a simple diagram of normal skin structure. It also indicates the major cell types that are normally found in each compartment. Broadly speaking, there are two large compartmentsthe avascular epidermis and the vascular dermiswith many cell types distributed in a connective tissue matrix, largely created by fibroblasts.

    The true cytologic origin of BCC remains in question. BCC and basal cell keratinocytes share many histologic similarities, as is reflected in the name. Alternatively, the outer root sheath cells of the hair follicle have also been proposed as the cell of origin for BCC. This is suggested by the fact that BCCs occur predominantly on hair-bearing skin. BCCs rarely metastasize but can invade tissue locally or regionally, sometimes following along nerves.

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