Basal cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that can affect people who work in the sun for a long time. Read this article to know more.
Basal cell carcinoma is a cancerous condition that causes lesions in the skin. These types of cancers are specific to the basal cells. The most common affected site on the skin receives a higher degree of exposure to the sun. In some patients, it can be a life-threatening condition. The advancements in the medical field have resulted in a complete cure for basal cell carcinoma. The lesions that are detected early have a higher chance of recovery.
The leading cause of basal cell carcinoma is the mutation happening in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The outermost layer of the skin is known as the epidermis. The basal cells that are responsible for the occurrence of basal cell carcinoma are found below the epidermal layer. These cells try to produce new cells in response to the mutation. The new cells cause the older cells to move from their original position, and they are sloughed off later after dying. The newly formed cells undergo vigorous proliferation resulting in the formation of cancerous cells. In the later stages, it begins to appear on the skin as a lesion.
Another cause of basal cell carcinoma could be damage to the DNA due to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Radiations from the tanning beds and tanning lamps can also be the causative factor.
The symptoms of basal cell carcinoma are:
A blackish or bluish lesion.
A waxy, whitish scar in the lesion.
A pinkish bump is seen along with small blood vessels.
The various risk factors for basal cell carcinoma are discussed below.
Radiation Therapy: The radiation therapy used to treat skin lesions, and acne might serve as a risk factor for basal cell carcinoma.
Prolonged Exposure to Sunlight: People who live in sunny regions and high altitudes suffer a higher degree of risk.
People Belonging to Higher Age: The time taken for the development of basal cell carcinoma is of prolonged duration. Since the progression of the condition takes a long time, this condition is known to affect people who belong to older age groups. In recent years, the development of basal cell carcinoma has been identified in younger people also.
Genetic Conditions: Genetic conditions like xeroderma pigmentosum and Gorlin-Goltz syndrome are known to increase the risk of occurrence of basal cell carcinoma.
Arsenic Exposure: In the environment, the presence of toxic metals like arsenic are found in higher quantities. Since it is a naturally occurring component, exposure to arsenic has become very common. A certain group of people is known to have a higher degree of exposure as they happen to drink the water in the well that is contaminated with arsenic. In such people, arsenic exposure becomes routine due to the occupation or daily living lifestyle. This induces the incidence of basal cell carcinoma.
Medications: Drugs that are consumed to suppress the functioning of the immune system are known as anti-rejection drugs. These drugs are often prescribed by doctors after transplantation surgery. Consuming these drugs will increase the risk of cancer.
A Family History of Basal Cell Carcinoma: If any of your parents or close family members are known to have basal cell carcinoma, then you have a higher degree of chance of getting this type of cancer.
Personal History of Basal Cell Carcinoma: If you have had basal cell carcinoma in your earlier periods of life, then the chances for the recurrence of this condition are higher.
Fair-Skinned People: People having fair skin or those who burn their skin easily are easily affected by basal cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma might require a skin specialist like a dermatologist to identify the condition. The dermatologist will recommend a skin biopsy to identify whether it is cancer. In addition to this, a clinical examination will also be performed in both involved and uninvolved skin sites. Biopsy results will help in identifying the specific type of cancer. After identifying this, the treatment is planned accordingly.
The aim of the treatment is to remove the cancer completely. The treatment is planned according to the size, shape, and location of the cancer. The health status of the patient is also considered.
Mohs Surgery: It is a conservative treatment option for the patient. In this surgery, the doctor tries to remove the cancerous tissue by sequential removal of the corresponding layers. This will help in identifying the cancer cells in the upcoming layers clearly. This surgery is very advantageous for patients who have a higher risk of recurrence. Complete removal of abnormal cells is possible in this method.
Surgical Excision: The doctor removes the lesion along with the surrounding healthy tissue. The margins of the excised lesion are viewed under a microscope till there are no cancer cells.
Photodynamic Therapy: In this therapy, photosensitizing drugs are used to identify cancer that is present in the superficial layers. When surgery cannot be performed, then photodynamic therapy is the treatment option.
Radiation Therapy: In this method, X-rays and high-energy beams are used to kill the cancer cells.
Electrodesiccation: In this procedure, a scraping instrument is used to remove the lesions on the skin surface. This procedure is suitable for the removal of lesions in the hands, feet, chest, and back.
Cryosurgery: Cryosurgery is the method in which liquid nitrogen is used to remove cancer cells. The liquid nitrogen used in the surgery freezes the cancer cells. When surgery cannot be performed, cryosurgery is an excellent alternative option.
Metastasis can happen. Metastasis is the spreading of the cancer cells to the tissues and lymph nodes. This might involve the lungs and the bones.
Basal cell carcinoma increases the risk of occurrence of any other type of skin cancer.
Even after successful treatment, basal cell carcinoma is known to recur. This is one of the common complications experienced by the patients.
Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads to the other body areas, and detection at early stages has a good prognosis. So it is essential to look for any unusual growths in your skin and get them checked by a doctor. Though it is natural to feel worried if you are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, you should also remember that it is less risky and can be cured with prompt treatment. You can also consult an online doctor in case of any queries or doubts about this condition.
Last reviewed at:
12 Oct 2022 - 5 min read
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