Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a very common skin cancer that develops from the basal cells in your skin. BCC is a curable carcinoma that tends to not spread around, and is common in those who spend copious amounts of time in the sun or in tanning beds. Basal cell carcinoma typically develops on the head, ears, nose and neck, and often appear as a shiny bump, can be red/scaly, or present like an open sore.
Basal Cell Carcinoma link to Sunlight
Sunlight’s UV rays<Ultraviolet Radiation, is thought to be the leading cause of BCC. Basal cells are the bottom layer of the skin, the cells that build new skin cells. Sun damage causes mutations to the DNA. This allows the basal layer to create abnormal cells instead of normal skin cells. These mutated cells grow rapidly and don’t die in 30 days like a normal skin cell would. They build up and accumulate on the skin and this is the raised area we see.
Be suspicious of BCC if you develop a skin lesion that won’t heal in a sun exposed area. It may start as a translucent area and then change into several different presentation:
Chest or back- scaly flat reddish area with a more raised edge.
Face, neck, and ears- a pink colored bump or pearly white translucent bump. Can often even see the capillaries inside. This may even scab over if you pick at it and can bleed. It is the most common type.
Bluish, black or brown lesion with a translucent raised border
Least common- morpheaform BCC- can present as a scar-like waxy clearly defined lesion.
Treatment for basal cell carcinoma
- skin medications can be used to treat smaller sections of skin, while radiation is often reserved for large patches of affected skin.
Medications include creams like:
- fluorouracil (Carac)
- vismodegib (Erivedge)
- imiquimod (Aldara)
BCC prevention includes actively avoiding extended periods of exposure to the sun, use of sunscreen protection, and annual visits to your dermatologist for full body skin checks. If you have a family history of skin cancers (or have had skin cancer before), it is especially important that you are aware of these preventative measures, and speak with your doctor regularly. If you spot something unusual on your skin please do not hesitate to make an appointment to have it checked out, as early intervention greatly increases chances for successful treatment.
- Always wear sunscreen – even in winter
- Stay out of midday sun
- Protective clothing – wide brim hats, long sleeves, tightly woven fabrics can help
- Perform regular skin checks, especially for paler skin.
- No tanning beds!
- If you are ask risk, have a dermatologist map your skin yearly.