The most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinomas comprise about 80-85 percent of all skin cancer cases. Before you get too worried about skin cancer, know that most moles aren’t cancer, and most skin cancer is this less aggressive carcinoma. Due to the nature of the cancer, basal cell carcinoma is less likely to spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. This is despite the fact that basal cells are found in the deeper layers of the epidermis. Nevertheless, if ignored or overlooked for too long, these cancerous growths can still have serious, even deadly, consequences.
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Too much exposure to UV radiation damages the body’s natural repair system in a way that encourages basal cell carcinomas to form. Indeed, the face, neck, and other areas of the skin commonly exposed to the sun are the most likely places for this type of skin cancer to form. Other risk factors for basal cell carcinoma include fair skin, age (50 years or older), and exposure to other sources of UV radiation (tanning beds/radiation therapy).
Some characteristics of basal cell carcinoma are nearly universal, namely some type of lesion that bleeds and scabs intermittently. However, the symptoms with this type of skin cancer growth are also quite varied:
- The most common symptom is white, pink, or skin-colored bumps that are relatively translucent. You may see small blood vessels inside the growth. This type of basal cell carcinoma often appears on the face and ears and is known to rupture, bleed, and scab.
- Flat, scaly, and reddish skin growths may also indicate basal cell skin cancer, particularly when found on the back or chest. Left untreated, these lesions can grow to be very large.
- Brown, black, and/or blue lesions on the face and neck which have a slightly raised but translucent border.
- White and waxy lesions are the hardest to identify and do not present with a well-defined border.
Of course, when doing a self-check for skin cancer, you’re looking for symptoms of any skin cancer, not just basal cell carcinoma. Any suspicious mole or new skin growth, especially with complex coloration and irregular shape, is cause for serious concern. Don’t wait to contact our Chesterfield clinic to make an appointment with our dermatologist.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Biopsies
Typically, the entire tumor and skin growth can be removed during the biopsy. However, smaller basal cell carcinomas that haven’t had time to grow into a visible tumor are easily missed. People with a history of basal cell skin cancer are more likely to get additional growths. Given the potential location and number of skin cancer tumors, there are also cosmetic concerns with repeated biopsies. Our experienced dermatologists can keep you safe by completely removing the growth while minimizing any scarring that may result from a biopsy procedure. This is another reason for regular skin cancer screenings: Both the type of biopsy procedure and the total affected area is less invasive with early detection. We’ll clearly explain each step of the procedure so that you know exactly what to expect with a skin cancer biopsy.
Advanced Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment
There are rare subtypes of basal cell carcinoma that can be difficult to treat even when detected at a reasonably stage. That’s because basal cell carcinomas sometimes spread along nerves, making them more difficult to remove. Mohs surgery is often the best option, but even so, multiple attempts may be necessary to completely remove these types of skin cancer growths.
In rare cases in which there is evidence that basal cell carcinoma has spread to surrounding lymph nodes, additional treatment may be recommended. You can read more about these advanced skin cancer treatments including include immunotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation.