Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most prevalent form of skin cancer, responsible for the majority of cases. It originates in the basal cells found in the deepest layer of the epidermis, the skin's outermost layer. Although BCC generally grows slowly and is not aggressive, it can still cause significant local tissue damage if not treated promptly.

BCC can appear on the skin in various ways, including red patches, pink growths, open sores, and shiny bumps. Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is the most common cause. With proper treatment, BCC is rarely life-threatening.

Approximately three million people are diagnosed with BCC each year. The condition is most common among individuals exposed to high levels of UV rays. Although the average age of BCC patients is decreasing, it remains most prevalent in people over the age of 40.

Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) often begins as persistent wounds or sores.
  • BCC can appear as reddish areas on sun-exposed parts of the body such as the face, neck, arms, and legs.
  • BCC might resemble scars, pink growths, or shiny bumps.
  • In some cases, they bear a resemblance to moles, contributing to misidentification.

Causes of Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Basal cell carcinoma is caused by spending too much time in the sun. 
  • Getting sunburnt, especially as a child, increases the risk of BCC.
  • Family history of skin cancer.
  • A weakened immune system, and exposure to certain environmental toxins can also contribute.

How to Prevent Basal Cell Carcinoma

Preventing basal cell carcinoma (BCC)  involves adopting sun-safe habits to shield your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. These habits include:
  • Sunscreen is Your Shield: Regularly apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on all exposed skin, even on cloudy days. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
  • Cover Up: Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses to minimize direct sun exposure.
  • Avoid Peak Sun Hours: Limit outdoor activities during the sun's strongest hours, usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If possible, seek shade under trees or use an umbrella.
  • Protective Gear for Outdoor Activities: If you're engaging in outdoor sports or activities, consider using sun-protective clothing and gear to create an extra barrier against UV rays.
  • Regular Skin Checks: It's essential to schedule annual skin checks with your dermatologist. Early detection is critical to effective treatment plans.
By incorporating these practices into your routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing Basal Cell Carcinoma and maintain healthy skin.

Basal Cell Carcinoma FAQs

Preventing BCC involves protecting your skin from UV radiation by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding tanning beds. Regular skin checks and self-examinations are also important.

Yes, BCC can recur, especially if not completely removed. Regular follow-up appointments with a dermatologist are essential to monitor for any new or returning lesions.

BCC can appear as a shiny bump, a red patch, a pink growth, an open sore, or a scar-like area on the skin. These lesions may bleed, ooze, or crust and do not heal over time.

The primary cause of BCC is long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Other risk factors include fair skin, a history of sunburns, and a family history of skin cancer.

Anyone can develop BCC, but those at higher risk include individuals with fair skin, light hair, and light eyes, those with a history of sunburns or excessive sun exposure, and those with a personal or family history of skin cancer.

If you notice any unusual or persistent changes in your skin, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for an evaluation. Early detection and treatment are key to managing BCC effectively.

From Our QualDerm Family of Brands: Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers

How to Treat Basal Cell Carcinoma

If Basal Cell Carcinoma is suspected, a biopsy is typically performed by a dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis. Once confirmed, several treatment options are available:
  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery: This specialized surgery is commonly used for skin cancers like Basal Cell Carcinoma, particularly in sensitive areas. Mohs surgery excels in preserving healthy tissue, boasting a high cure rate of around 98% for primary, non-recurrent cases.
  • Excisional Surgery: In this procedure, a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue is removed to prevent the cancer from spreading.
  • Electrodesiccation and Curettage: After numbing the area, the growth is scraped off and cauterized (burned) to eliminate remaining tumor cells and control bleeding. This method is not ideal for advanced cases or growths in sensitive areas.
  • Topical Therapeutic Options: Certain creams or ointments can be considered for specific lesions. Your dermatologist will discuss these options based on the characteristics of the Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Each treatment approach aims to effectively remove or destroy cancerous cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. The choice of method depends on factors such as the tumor's location, size, and overall health considerations. Your dermatologist will guide you through the options, helping choose the most suitable treatment for your individual case. Regular follow-ups and ongoing skin checks are essential to monitor for any signs of recurrence or new skin abnormalities.