What Is Basal Cell Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Skin Cancer, or basal cell carcinoma, is the most common type of Skin Cancer: about 80% of skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas. It is also the most common type of cancer in humans.
Basal cell carcinomas usually develop on sun-exposed areas and tend to grow slowly. Its very rare for a basal cell cancer to spread to other parts of the body, but if left untreated it can grow into nearby areas and invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin.
What Is The Treatment For Basal Cell Carcinoma
There are various types of treatments that may be used for a basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of skin cancer. For example, a doctor may remove the cancerous growth using a procedure called curettage and electrodesiccation or via surgical excision. Cryosurgery, which involves freezing the cancerous cells, may provide effective treatment as well. Additionally, a procedure called Mohs’ micrographic surgery may be used in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma. No matter what treatment is chosen, however, a doctors goal is usually to get rid of the cancer with minimal scarring for the patient.
One type of treatment for basal cell carcinoma is referred to as curettage and electrodesiccation. This procedure involves scooping the tumor out of the patients body using a curved medical instrument called a curette. Once the carcinoma has been removed from the skin, the doctor then employs electrodesiccation, which involves the use of an electric current, to help keep the patients bleeding to a minimum and destroy any cancerous cells that have been left behind. Usually, a patient will not need stitches after this treatment, and the skin is allowed to complete a natural healing process.
How Do I Know If I Have Skin Cancer
All potentially cancerous skin growths must be biopsied to confirm a cancer diagnosis. Depending on the suspected type of skin cancer, the biopsy techniques vary slightly but crucially.
Any potential ‘ target=’_blank’ rel=’noopener noreferrer’ > melanoma requires a surgical biopsy, in which the entire growth is removed with a scalpel if possible. A pathologist then studies the sample under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present.
If melanoma is diagnosed, other tests may be ordered to assess the degree of cancer spread . They include:
- Imaging. Your doctor will order one or more tests to look for metastasis. They include CT scan, MRI, PET scan, bone scan, and chest X-ray.
- Other biopsies. Using a variety of techniques, your doctor may want to get tissue samples from lymph nodes.
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Skin growths that are most likely basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or other forms of non-melanoma can be biopsied in various ways. Part or all of the growth can be taken with a scalpel for examination under a microscope.
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Signs Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
BCC generally starts out in the upper layer of your skin. Thatâs called your epidermis. Hereâs what it may look like:
- A bloody or oozing sore that doesnât go away
- A rough patch of skin, usually in a sun-exposed area
- A reddish area that may hurt or itch
- A shiny bump thatâs clear, reddish, or white
- A flat white, yellow, or âwaxyâ area that looks like a scar
- A colored mole-like bump
BCC tends to grow slower than other kind of cancer, but thatâs not always the case. And if itâs advanced BCC, it can spread much deeper into your tissue. Call your doctor if you see any of these changes in your skin. Ask them about genetic conditions and other risk factors that can raise your chances of advanced BCC.
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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.
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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.
Expert Review And References
- Christensen SR, Leffell DJ. Cancer of the skin. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015: 92:1314-1336.
- National Cancer Institute. Skin Cancer Treatment for Health Professionals . 2015: .
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Basal Cell Skin Cancer . 2015.
- Zloty D, Guenther LC, Sapijaszko M et al. Non-melanoma skin cancer in Canada chapter 4: management of basal cell carcinoma. Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 2015.
What Is The Prognosis Of Infiltrating Basal Cell Carcinoma Of Skin
- In general, the prognosis of Infiltrating Basal Cell Carcinoma of Skin is excellent, if it is detected and treated early. However, if it metastasizes to the local lymph nodes, the prognosis is guarded or unpredictable
- In such cases of metastatic BCC, its prognosis depends upon a set of several factors that include:
- Stage of tumor: With lower-stage tumors, when the tumor is confined to site of origin, the prognosis is usually excellent with appropriate therapy. In higher-stage tumors, such as tumors with metastasis, the prognosis is poor
- The surgical resectability of the tumor
- Overall health of the individual: Individuals with overall excellent health have better prognosis compared to those with poor health
- Age of the individual: Older individuals generally have poorer prognosis than younger individuals
- Whether the tumor is occurring for the first time, or is a recurrent tumor. Recurring tumors have a poorer prognosis compared to tumors that do not recur
- Response to treatment: Tumors that respond to treatment have better prognosis compared to tumors that do not respond so well to treatment
Is Mohs Right For Me
Mohs surgery is the gold standard for treating many basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas , including those in cosmetically and functionally important areas around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, scalp, fingers, toes or genitals. Mohs is also recommended for BCCs or SCCs that are large, aggressive or growing rapidly, that have indistinct edges, or have recurred after previous treatment. Some surgeons are also successfully using Mohs surgery on certain cases of melanoma.
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Whats The Outlook For Stage 4 Melanoma
Once the cancer spreads, locating and treating the cancerous cells becomes more and more difficult. You and your doctor can develop a plan that balances your needs. The treatment should make you comfortable, but it should also seek to remove or slow cancer growth. The expected rate for deaths related to melanoma is 10,130 people per year. The outlook for stage 4 melanoma depends on how the cancer has spread. Its usually better if the cancer has only spread to distant parts of the skin and lymph nodes instead of other organs.
What Is The Life Expectancy For Basal Cell Skin Cancer
The prognosis for patients with basal cell carcinoma is very good, and the 5-year recurrence rate is about 5%. The cancer rarely spreads so patients can generally expect a normal life expectancy if doctors treat their cancer promptly.
Advanced basal cell carcinoma is rare, however, if the cancer is allowed to progress, it can cause significant illness.
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Tests Or Procedures That Examine The Skin Are Used To Diagnose Basal Cell Carcinoma And Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin
The following procedures may be used:
- Physical exam and health history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patients health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Skin exam: An exam of the skin for bumps or spots that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture.
- Skin biopsy: All or part of the abnormal-looking growth is cut from the skin and viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. There are four main types of skin biopsies:
- Shave biopsy: A sterile razor blade is used to shave-off the abnormal-looking growth.
- Punch biopsy: A special instrument called a punch or a trephine is used to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal-looking growth. Enlarge Punch biopsy. A hollow, circular scalpel is used to cut into a lesion on the skin. The instrument is turned clockwise and counterclockwise to cut down about 4 millimeters to the layer of fatty tissue below the dermis. A small sample of tissue is removed to be checked under a microscope. Skin thickness is different on different parts of the body.
- Incisional biopsy: A scalpel is used to remove part of a growth.
- Excisional biopsy: A scalpel is used to remove the entire growth.
Help Getting Through Cancer Treatment
People with cancer need support and information, no matter what stage of illness they may be in. Knowing all of your options and finding the resources you need will help you make informed decisions about your care.
Whether you are thinking about treatment, getting treatment, or not being treated at all, you can still get supportive care to help with pain or other symptoms. Communicating with your cancer care team is important so you understand your diagnosis, what treatment is recommended, and ways to maintain or improve your quality of life.
Different types of programs and support services may be helpful, and can be an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services including rides to treatment, lodging, and more to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists.
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What Does Bcc Look Like
BCCs can look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, scars or growths with slightly elevated, rolled edges and/or a central indentation. At times, BCCs may ooze, crust, itch or bleed. The lesions commonly arise in sun-exposed areas of the body. In patients with darker skin, about half of BCCs are pigmented .
Its important to note that BCCs can look quite different from one person to another. For more images and information on BCC signs, symptoms and early detection strategies, visit our BCC Warning Signs page.
Please note: Since not all BCCs have the same appearance, these photos serve as a general reference to what they can look like. If you see something new, changing or unusual on your skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.
An open sore that does not heal
A shiny bump or nodule
A reddish patch or irritated area
A scar-like area that is flat white, yellow or waxy in color
A small pink growth with a slightly raised, rolled edge and a crusted indentation in the center
What Happens If I Dont Have A Basal Cell Carcinoma Treated
As mentioned above, basal cell carcinomas are almost never fatal, but they can be highly disfiguring if left to grow unimpeded. These lesions will grow wider and will penetrate more deeply into the skin, damaging underlying tissue and eventually bone. Removing these growths once they have become so established will involve removing much more surrounding tissue and possibly bone, which can be quite challenging if the growth is on an area such as the face.
Another thing about leaving a basal cell carcinoma untreated is that by doing so you are increasing the odds it will return even if it is removed at this point. Now youll have extra future costs of excision or another removal, along with more tissue loss.
None of this should happen. When basal cell carcinoma is diagnosed early on, removing the lesion is usually quite simple and the success rate is very high. If addressed early, its unlikely another basal cell carcinoma will return to that location, as well.
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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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What Is The Likely Outcome For Someone Who Has Bcc
When found early and treated, this skin cancer can often be removed. However, this skin cancer can return. You also have a higher risk of developing another BCC or other type of skin cancer.
Thats why self-care becomes so important after treatment for BCC. Youll find the self-care that dermatologists recommend at, Basal cell carcinoma: Self-care.
ReferencesBichakjian CK, Armstrong A, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of basal cell carcinoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018 78:540-59.
Bichakjian CK, Olencki T, et al. Basal cell skin cancer, Version 1.2016, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2016 14:574-97.
Cameron MC, Lee E, et al. Basal cell carcinoma: Epidemiology pathophysiology clinical and histological subtypes and disease associations. J Am Acad Dermatol 2019 80:303-17.
Cameron MC, Lee E, et al. Basal cell carcinoma: Contemporary approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. J Am Acad Dermatol 2019 80:321-39.
Nouri K, Ballard CJ, et al. Basal cell carcinoma. In: Nouri K, et al. Skin Cancer. McGraw Hill Medical, China, 2008: 61-81.
Xie P, Lefrançois P. Efficacy, safety, and comparison of sonic hedgehog inhibitors in basal cell carcinomas: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018 79:1089-100.
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Who Gets Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma Of Skin
- Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma of Skin generally affects elderly adults some cases rarely develop in children and young adults too
- Superficial BCC of Skin constitutes approximately 15% of all Basal Cell Carcinoma of Skin types. It is the second most common type of BCC of Skin
- It can occur in both males and females however
- Among the older age group, males are affected more than females
- In the younger age group, females are affected more than males, which may be attributed to their tendency to acquire sun-tanned bodies or visit skin tanning parlors more
The Most Effective Technique For Treating Common Skin Cancers
Mohs surgery is considered the most effective technique for treating many basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas , the two most common types of skin cancer. Sometimes called Mohs micrographic surgery, the procedure is done in stages, including lab work, while the patient waits. This allows the removal of all cancerous cells for the highest cure rate while sparing healthy tissue and leaving the smallest possible scar.
It began as a technique called chemosurgery, developed by Frederic E. Mohs, MD, in the late 1930s, but was not widely known. In the mid 1960s, Perry Robins, MD, studied the procedure with Dr. Mohs, and recognized that it had great potential for the field of dermatology. He brought the technique to NYU, where he established the first fellowship training program to teach dermatologists this skin cancer surgery. Dr. Robins helped advance the procedure into what is now called Mohs surgery and went on to teach and promote it around the world.
for a skin cancer that has not been treated before
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