BCC is the most common type of skin cancer. Basal Cell cancer originates from basal cells located in the epidermis (top skin layer).

Basal Cell Carcinomas usually originate in sun-exposed areas such as the ears, face, upper body and neck.

What causes Basal Cell Carcinoma?

The major cause of BCC is long term sunlight exposure of the skin. It has also been seen that up to 20% of BCC occur in areas which are not usually exposed to sunlight. They have been detected under the arms, toes and in the scalp.

BCC have also been known to originate in areas of old scarring. (Such as an old vaccination scar).

Rarely BCCs can be caused by exposure to arsenic, or complications from Tattoos or burns.

Am I at risk of developing Basal Cell Carcinoma?

People who have had frequent sun exposure are at risk of developing skin cancer. There is usually cumulative sun exposure over time, so people with outdoor occupations are at riskRecently, it has been recognized that the BCC can occur in people who get intermittent, intense sun exposure (e.g. people in office jobs who can get high sunlight exposure on weekends)

High risk people for BCC include people with blonde hair, fair skin, blue, green or grey eyes. Skin cancer was traditionally thought to effect the older age group but it has been found that more and more younger people, even teen agers, are being diagnosed with skin cancer.

What does Basal Cell Carcinoma look like?

Basal Cell Carcinomas may appear as:

    • A pinkish patchy lesion which is  flat and persists
    • A pinkish lump like lesion which may be pearly or shiny
    • A None healing sore
    • A easily bleeding spot
    • A slow growing scar like area

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment

BCC can be suspected based on clinical presentation, history, risk factors combines with dermoscopy examination. Following this a skin biopsy can be done to confirm the diagnosis. The biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of the lesion is taken and sent for special staining and examination by a pathologist. The Pathologist then assesses the specimen and gives out a report as to the type and subtype of cancer. It also gives an indication on the depth of the cancer.

Various treatment modalities exist for treatment of BCCs. Surgical excision is the commonest method used for treatment but others treatments like topical (creams), electrodessication, serial curettage and photodynamic therapy can be used depending on the type and severity of the cancer.

What happens if a Basal Cell Carcinoma is not treated?

If the BCC is not treated, it continues to grow deeper and may end up ulcerating and bleeding. It can involve the nerves in very sensitive structures like eyes and ears. If the diagnosis is made late, very extensive surgical excision may be required. In some cases where there is extensive nerve involvement or deep tissue involvement, radiotherapy may be needed. It very rarely spreads to the other parts of the body.

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