Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is a common type of skin cancer. Skin’s basal cells are present in the deepest levels of epidermis which is the outermost level of the skin. BCC is caused due to cumulative and intense sun exposure. UV rays from sun damages the skin’s DNA and causes the skin cells to grow uncontrollably. The cancer formation takes years. BCC never spreads around the original tumour site or increases in size. Very rarely does the tumour spread or cause any life threatening situation. But in any case, BCC should not be taken lightly.
Signs and Symptoms
BCC shows some signs of warning. Only a trained physician can be sure of whether it is BCC. Some common signs of warning are:
- Open and bleeding sores that have been open for a few weeks, unable to heal.
- A reddish patch or irritated area on the face, chest, shoulders, arms or legs.
- Shiny pink, red or white nodule.
- A pink growth with a rolled border.
- White, yellow or waxy scar-like area which has no borders. Usually the tumour in this case is larger in size than it appears to be.
BCC can be easily diagnosed if detected early. For diagnosis, doctor will take a sample from the tumour for biopsy. He will numb the region and remove some of the skin for test. The treatment intensity depends on the size of the tumour. BCC can cause disfigurement or even muscle or never injury; hence it should be treated as soon as detected.
On removal of small skin cancers, the scars can be easily accepted to live with. However, if the tumours are big, then skin grafting is done to heal the wound. To choose the best treatment, the doctor will study the size and intensity of tumour. The patient’s overall health is also taken into account. Some of the treatment options the doctors provide are:
Cutting and removing tumour: This procedure is called as excision. During the procedure, the tumour and the surrounding skin is made numb. The tumour is then cut out and the skin surrounding the tumour. The sample is then sent to lab for examination. If the doctor finds traces of cancerous cells in the surrounding skin tissue sample, then more skin surrounding the tumour is removed.
Using electricity to kill cancer cells: This procedure is known as curettage and desiccation. The doctor first numbs the local region around the tumour. The region is cut and tumour is removed with the help of a spoon shaped tool called as curette. Doctor then removes the surrounding cancerous skin cells if any, with the help of electric needles.
Freezing the tumour: This procedure is known as cryosurgery. In this procedure cancer cells are killed by freezing them with the help of liquid nitrogen.
Radiation therapy: This treatment includes usage of x-rays to kill the cancerous cells.
Mohs surgery: In this procedure the tumour is removed layer by layer. This surgery is done if the tumour is large or if the tumour is present in a sensitive area of our body.
Once a person is detected with basal cell carcinoma, he or she should take care of their skin to prevent recurrence of cancer. One should keep an eye on the new growths or changes or bleeding. Avoid exposing yourself to strong sun rays between 12 to 2 pm. Always use sunscreen while going out in sun. Apply sunscreen to all the areas that are not covered with clothes.