What is it?
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer that arises from the basal layers of the skin and typically shows up in sun-exposed areas such as the head, neck, trunk and extremities.
Is this Cancer Dangerous?
Although BCCs are fairly indolent lesions, they are locally growing and can be locally invasive. This means that the growth can get larger and larger over time and invade into deeper and surrounding tissues of the body, such as tendons, nerves and bones.
Metastasis (cancer spreading to a distant part of the body), however, is extremely rare.
What is the Cause?
BCCs is often more prevalent in individuals with lighter skin and caused by cumulative sun exposure.
Other established risk factors include UV tanning beds, chronic arsenic exposure, previous radiation therapy and immunosuppressant medications for other conditions.
What do the lesions look like?
70% of BCCs develop on the face, about 15% present on the trunk, and very rarely BCCs can be found in genital areas.
BCCs look like flesh-coloured papules that have a pearly/translucent quality. You may see some tiny blood vessels that run through the lesions. They may have a raised or rolled border with a depressed center or an ulcerated middle.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Pictures
What is the Treatment?
There are different ways of treating BCC. If the lesion is small and caught early, the lesions can be frozen (with cryotherapy) or burnt off (with electrocautery) which causes minimal scaring. There are prescription creams, such as imiquimod and topical 5-FU that can be used in superficially spreading BCCs.
Complete excision for larger lesions or lesions in visible areas can help achieve the best medical and aesthetic results.
What happens after the lesion is excise?
After the lesion is excised and closed with either permanent or dissolving sutures, it is sent to a pathologist who examines it under the microscope to confirm the diagnosis and to ensure that the lesion is completely excised.
5-7, if the lesion was on your face, or 10-14 days, if the lesion was on body parts other than the face, after your surgery, you come back to the office/clinic to review the pathology report, to check on your incision and to remove or trim your sutures.
If you have skin cancers removed and have risk factors for development of BCCs, you should schedule yearly skin examinations to ensure that you catch these lesions early and can have them treated in a timely manner.
Additionally, protection from sun damage is important. The use of hats and clothing that cover exposed skin as well as sunblock is vital to prevent the development of more skin cancers.