Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common human cancer – so common, in fact, that it is estimated that nearly one out of three Caucasians will have it in his or her lifetime.

The good news is that it is rarely deadly. Basal cell carcinoma is considered malignant since it can affect a significant amount of surrounding tissue.

Basal-cell carcinoma usually appears on areas of the skin that has had intense exposure to the sun or other forms of ultraviolet light.

Symptoms

Basal-cell carcinoma begins as an open sore, red patch or small, shiny or waxy bump on the ears, face or neck.

The bump slowly enlarges and may bleed, form a white border around a depressed central area or develop a crust. It could also look like a scar in an area where there has been no injury.

Risk

On the back or chest, the basal-cell carcinoma will usually appear as a flat scaly patch that is brown or flesh-colored. These areas can also become quite large if left untreated.

Causes

Two out of three cases of basal-cell carcinoma develop on areas of the skin that have been exposed to sunlight. For this reason, skin cancer such as basal-cell carcinoma has been strongly connected to exposure to sunlight without proper protection such as sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.

People who use tanning booths are 70% more likely to develop basal-cell carcinoma.

One out of three cases of basal-cell carcinoma are located on areas that are not typically associated with sun exposure, and such areas (including the chest and abdominal areas) are continuing to grow in proportion of cases. Some medical experts have raised the question about whether there is a genetic connection that increases the likelihood of developing skin cancer in some people.

Treatment

Removal of the cancerous tissue is the most common treatment for basal-cell carcinoma. Since the skin cancer tends to be in delicate and visible areas such as the face and neck, Mohs surgery is commonly used to remove the cancerous tissue, and has a cure rate of 95% or higher. Other treatments, in rare cases, may include chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and a drug named Erivedge. These treatments may be used for extremely advanced cases.

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