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What If Basal Cell Carcinoma Is Left Untreated

Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinoma

basal cell carcinoma

The two most common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are sometimes called nonmelanoma skin cancer. These cancers are carcinomas that begin in the cells that cover or line an organ.

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. It is important that skin cancers are found and treated early because they can invade and destroy nearby tissue. Organ transplant recipients have a 65-fold higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma than others. UCSF Medical Center offers a High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic for those at high risk for non-melanoma skin cancers, such as transplant recipients.

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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.

The Most Common Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 3.6 million cases are diagnosed each year. BCCs arise from abnormal, uncontrolled growth of basal cells.

Because BCCs grow slowly, most are curable and cause minimal damage when caught and treated early. Understanding BCC causes, risk factors and warning signs can help you detect them early, when they are easiest to treat and cure.

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Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Considered Malignant

The vast majority of skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. While malignant, these are unlikely to spread to other parts of the body if treated early. They may be locally disfiguring if not treated early. A small but significant number of skin cancers are malignant melanomas.

What Happens If Basal Cell Carcinoma Is Left Untreated

Neglected Basal Cell Carcinomas in the 21st Century

Basal cell carcinoma is a very slow growing type of non-melanoma skin cancer. If left untreated, basal cell carcinomas can become quite large, cause disfigurement, and in rare cases, spread to other parts of the body and cause death.

You may ask, What skin cancer looks like when it starts?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma This nonmelanoma skin cancer may appear as a firm red nodule, a scaly growth that bleeds or develops a crust, or a sore that doesnt heal. It most often occurs on the nose, forehead, ears, lower lip, hands, and other sun-exposed areas of the body.

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What Causes Skin Cancer

The main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn and blistering. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage the skin and, over time, lead to skin cancer. The UV light damages DNA in the skin and causes it to grow abnormally. Exposure to certain chemicals such as tar and coal can cause skin cancer for those with jobs that require them to frequently be in contact with these chemicals. Those with a weakened immune system also have an increased risk for skin cancer.

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.

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Answer: Risk Of Not Treating Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma is a locally destructive type of skin cancer that is notorious for recurrence when not adequately treated. It can become quite disfiguring if left untreated, especially when located in cosmetically sensitive areas such as the nose. Typically this type of skin biopsy is performed for diagnosis and is not adequate treatment for a skin cancer. Biopsies sample a portion of the lesion, leaving some behind. This type of “sampling” biopsy is not intended to remove the entire lesion. It is not advisable to leave a known skin cancer untreated as it will likely grow and become more of a problem to remove in the future. Mohs micrographic surgery allows for 100% margin control and is tissue-sparing, which means it offers the highest cure rate while preserving as much normal tissue as possible.

Skin: Condition: Infomation Superficial Bccs

Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
  • Curettage and cautery the skin is numbed with local anaesthetic and the BCC is scraped away and then the skin surface is sealed by heat .
  • Cryotherapy freezing the BCC with liquid nitrogen.
  • Creams these can be applied to the skin. The two most commonly used are 5-fluorouracil and imiquimod.
  • a special cream is applied to the BCC which is taken up by the cells that are then destroyed by exposure to a specific wavelength of light. This treatment is only available in certain dermatology departments .

Surgical excision is the preferred treatment, but the choice of other treatments depends on the site and size of the BCC, the condition of the surrounding skin and number of BCC to be treated as well as the overall state of health of each person to be treated.

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What Is Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells in the skin. Left untreated, with certain types of skin cancer, these cells can spread to other organs and tissues, such as lymph nodes and bone. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting 1 in 5 Americans during their lifetimes, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Taking Care Of Yourself

After you’ve been treated for basal cell carcinoma, you’ll need to take some steps to lower your chance of getting cancer again.

Check your skin. Keep an eye out for new growths. Some signs of cancer include areas of skin that are growing, changing, or bleeding. Check your skin regularly with a hand-held mirror and a full-length mirror so that you can get a good view of all parts of your body.

Avoid too much sun. Stay out of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UVB burning rays are strongest.

Use sunscreen. The suns UVA rays are present all day long — thats why you need daily sunscreen. Make sure you apply sunscreen with at least a 6% zinc oxide and a sun protection factor of 30 to all parts of the skin that aren’t covered up with clothes every day. You also need to reapply it every 60 to 80 minutes when outside.

Dress right. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and cover up as much as possible, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

Continued

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How To Identify Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinomas look like flesh-colored, pearl-like bumps or pinkish patches of skin. They can develop into sores. They tend to grow most often on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as your arms, face, and neck. Often the first detected symptom of a basal cell carcinoma is a bleeding spot without a preceding cause. It is extremely rare to see regional spread or metastasis to other locations in the body. However, if left untreated, the lesion will expand and destroy more tissue locally where it is found.

Who Is Most At Risk For Skin Cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Treatment

Although anyone can develop skin cancer, those that are most at risk for skin cancer are people who:

  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Tan or use tanning beds
  • Get easily sunburned
  • Have fair or freckled skin
  • Have a family history of skin cancer
  • Have blue eyes
  • Take medications that suppress/weaken the immune system

People who work or spend more time outdoors have an increased risk for skin cancer, especially those in sunny climates. People with darker skin are still able to get skin cancer, but the risk is substantially lower. Organ transplant patients are up to 100 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer when compared to the general population, largely because they take medications that suppress their immune systems.

Risk factors unique to melanoma include a history of severe sunburns and an abundance of large and irregular moles.

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How Serious Should I Take Basal Cell Cancer Removed From My Nose

I recently had small area removed from my nose…that came back as basal cell cancer from the biopsy. The Dr now wants to go in and work on the area more. My issue is he requires $950 up front for the procedure, because my health insurance has high deductible. It’s entirely possible that the basal cell was removed with the first procedure. How likely are the risks and my chances that it will cause more problems.

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.

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Skin Cancer Symptoms Often Begin With Actinic Keratosis

Lesions are abnormal changes in tissues, such as a break or wound on the skin. Lesions from actinic keratosis are referred to as precancerous because they can turn into malignant tumors. Forty to 60 percent of all SCCs begin as actinic keratosis, and recent evidence suggests the two are genetically linked.

Actinic keratosis is likely to be caused by cumulative exposure to the suns rays. Its characteristics are as follows:

  • It occurs most often in sun-sensitive, light-skinned, light- or red-haired individuals with blue or green eyes.
  • It develops in areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, back of the hands, ears, neck, and forearms.
  • It is often characterized by a rough or crusty dry skin lesion that is limited to a small areausually between one-eighth and one-quarter-inch.
  • They may be gray, pink, red, or the same color as the skin, and may itch or cause a pricking or tender sensation.

Diagnosis of skin cancer symptoms may be as simple as an inspection by a dermatologist, but a biopsy may be necessary to determine if potentially cancerous changes are present.

Why Early Detection Is So Important

Basal Cell Carcinoma: Get It Checked Out

Early detection is your best line of defense against the risks posed by skin cancer. What you notice as a small growth or area of discoloration could be just the tip of a much more serious problem underneath the skins surface.

Do self-checks monthly and see your dermatologist for a thorough, full-body check once per year. Early detection that leads to early treatment can reduce the need for invasive procedures and will improve your chances for survival.

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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. Don’t 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.

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 Are The Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

A basal cell carcinoma is a stubborn, persistent spot that usually appears on areas that have been exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck, chest, arms and legs. The spot may take one of several forms: an open sore, a reddish irritated patch, a shiny red bump or nodule, a pink growth, or a small scar-like patch. In some people, the condition may resemble psoriasis or eczema. The spot will sometimes bleed, scab and heal up after a week or two, then bleed or become irritated again.

The main warning sign for basal cell carcinoma is that the spot doesn’t go away on its own. Patients often mistake basal cell carcinomas for minor injuries, says Dr. Christensen. They dont realize that an ordinary cut or scratch will heal within a month or so. So if something hasnt healed within a month, it should be examined by a dermatologist.

How Are Basal Cell Carcinomas Treated

Integumentary disorders

How we treat your basal cell carcinoma will often be dictated by its location. There are numerous treatment options.

Surgery is the typical treatment method. Depending on the size and location of the removed growth, the wound may be sutured closed, covered with a skin graft, or allowed to heal on its own.

These are the surgical procedures:

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Risks Associated With Untreated Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. Its also the slowest growing of the common forms of skin cancer and the least likely to metastasize, meaning it rarely spreads to other parts of the body. However, basal cell carcinoma presents a risk for disfigurement if left untreated. Without proper intervention, basal cell carcinoma can grow and invade local structures. Additionally, these lesions may present a risk for ulceration , bleeding, and infection. The type of treatment available in the early stages is likely to be more effective, less invasive, and more cost-effective. The longer basal cell carcinoma goes untreated, the procedures necessary to remove it become more advanced, invasive, and costly.

How Can You Tell If A Spot Is Cancerous

How to Spot Skin Cancer

  • Asymmetry. One part of a mole or birthmark doesnt match the other.
  • Border. The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • Color. The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • Diameter.
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    Why Not To Leave Skin Cancer Untreated

    Skin cancer has two sides. On the one hand, it is fairly easy to detect and treat when done so at an early stage. On the other hand, when left untreated, skin cancer can cause disfigurement and even death. This is the dark side of skin cancer. Find out the sobering consequences of allowing skin cancer to develop into later stages.

    What Does A Basal Cell Carcinoma Look Like

    Basal cell carcinoma get removed

    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.

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    What You Should Know About Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

    When it comes to BCC symptoms, they can vary significantly from one person to the next, according to physicians and other practitioners. For example, skin anomalies tend to appear darker in dark-skinned individuals compared to those who are fair-skinned. Additionally, some people with BCC will experience oozing, bleeding, or crusting of the skin while others will not. That said, it is best to avoid self-diagnosis and seek medical treatment if you notice any changes in the appearance of your skin. This is true even if they are small changes.

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