The most common form of nonmelanoma skin cancer in the United States is Basal Cell carcinoma (BCCa). This type of skin cancer is considered slow-growing and does not metastasize (spread) and does not travel to the bloodstream. Instead, BCCa infiltrates the surrounding tissue and continues to destroy the tissue until removed. Generally, BCCa are found on areas of the body that receive the most sun exposure or other form of UV radiation - scalp, face, ears, chest, back, arms, and legs.
Signs of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma will will usually have the appearance of a small bump or patch of skin with a pink or flesh colored tone. It may also have what has been referred to as a waxy appearance.
Other physical characteristics include:
- A small bump with pearly or waxy skin color, usually dome-shaped
- A non-healing or recurring red patch that bleeds or flakes, heals, and then returns
- A pimple-like growth that either heals and returns or never disappears
- A scar-like sore without having injured that area
- A bump that is white, light pink, flesh colored, or brown
If any bump or lesion is suspicious, a visit to ta physician can determine if it is a Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Diagnosis And Treatment
If basal cell carcinoma is suspected, a biopsy will be taken and sent to a pathologist for examination under a microscope. If you are diagnosed with BCC, your physician will come up with a treatment plan specific to you.
Treatment plans can include topical or oral chemotherapy or radiation. If the lesion appears small enough, the physician may remove the growth and some surrounding tissue. The entire sample would then be sent to the lab to confirm that all the cancer has been removed. If cancer is still present in the surrounding tissue, further excision would be necessary.
A common method of excision is Mohs micrographic surgery, a method that removes cancer in layers until skin cancer cells are no longer present. SCARS Center dermatologists prefer this method of skin cancer removal due to its tendency to preserve a greater amount of healthy skin at the site of cancer. This is crucial for functional as well as cosmetic reasons in the face, ears, nose, or lips.
Prevention and Detection
SCARS Center skin cancer specialists recommend sun safety as the number one way to help prevent basal cell carcinoma.
Sun safety best practices include:
- Seeking shade whenever possible
- Apply sunscreen every two hours throughout the day, this includes in the morning, when you plan to be inside, and on cloudy days
- Wear a hat, sunglasses, and clothing that helps protect the skin from over exposure to UV rays
- Avoid peak hours in the sun. This is from about 10:00 am to about 4:00 pm, depending on daylight saving time and your specific location
- Do not participate in indoor tanning as this is direct exposure to the kinds of harmful rays that can cause skin cancer
Detecting skin cancer is a matter of being aware of your skin and being aware of any changes, especially those that seem unusual or suspicious to you. Keep an eye on any bumps, marks, or lesions, that do not heal over a period of three or more weeks or recur.
Detection can happen at home, during your monthly skin examination, or in a physician's office at your annual or biannual skin examination. Being diligent with these examinations can help you prevent a basal cell carcinoma from growing into a more problematic occurrence.
Think you have found a basal cell carcinoma?
If you think you have found a basal cell carcinoma, contact our dermatologists for a skin examination today.
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