Basal Cell Carcinoma famously known as BCC or basal cell cancer is very common type of cancer and in most of the cases it is not life threatening. Every year close to 3 million people is diagnosed with BCC (in USA only) and as per some studies 3 out of every ten members living in US are prone to BCC. In most of the cases (> 80%) BCC occur in the upper parts of the body.
Over exposure to sun is one of the important reasons for getting basal skin cancer and avoid sun in the afternoon when sun’s UVB rays are strongest. Basal skin cancers can occur because of heredity also. Genetic reasons, working condition, stress are some other important factors that can cause BCC.
In some basal cell skin cancers, red spots similar to eczema will appear where as in most of the cases a shiny nodule which is in irregular shape (most of the cases, red in color) can be seen. It is difficult to differentiate between burning scar, acne, Actinic, elastosis and BCC just by looking at it. Hard cell growth (similar to acne) is one of the common symptoms in BCC and they are very sensitive and even with small pinch, bleed heavily.
Malignant tumors are common in BCC and the over growth of tissues is very rapid and quick. The growth of cancer cell usually starts as a mole and rapidly grows covering the surrounding areas of the skin. One can observe itching sensation and pain if pinched hard.
Even doctors cannot confirm BCC just by looking at it as the look of BCC is similar to injury wounds or skin diseases. Doctors use authenticated skin biopsy and somatosensory system which uses tactile sensation with advanced sensors to detect the disease. Biopsy is also considered as an option in rare occasions.
It is even difficult for doctors also to differentiate BCC with several other skin problems. During the diagnosis doctor will enquire you about usage of sun screens or other lotions, tanning beds, sun burns and your daily activities under the exposure of sun etc.
If the BCC is diagnosed early, it is very easy to get rid off. BCC can be completely curable in the last stages also. In most of the cases, the treatment is successful and it won’t spread to other parts of the body. In the rarest occasions, new carcinomas can appear in other parts of the body and it is always better to keep an eye on the excessive growth in any part of the body.
- Dressing style also plays an important role. Use full sleeve dresses, pants and accessories like hat which can protect from direct sunlight.
- Injury wounds, infections on skin should not be neglected.
- Tanning beds are not recommended to be used by BCC patients as they emit UV radiation.
BCC can be divided into 3 major groups based on the location at which the tissue over growth occurred and the difficulties that are being faced in the treatment of BCC’s.
- Superficial BCC : Generally treated with topical chemotherapy and it is very responsive to treatment and can be easily cured. Unlike the remaining two groups, this is the only type in BCC that can be completely cured with chemotherapy.
- Infiltrative BCC : More difficult to treat when compared to above and doctors recommend electrodessication and curettage to treat to this type of BCC. In some cases curettage is alone sufficient to cure completely.
- Nodular BCC : It is also known as classical BCC and very common in body parts which are exposed to sun radiation frequently (head and neck area). In some cases, one tumor can include several types of cancer cells and they are categorized in this group only.
Basal skin cancer can become life threatening and deadly if proper medicines are not given. In most of the cases, patients suffer because of irreparable damage done to skin. Permanent spots and stitching marks are some of the compilations that are generally seen.
- Applying sun screens whenever you are going out is a good idea and it is always better to use sun screens with SPF less than 30.
- Keep an eye on the over growths in any part of your body. It is easy to cure cancer in the early stages and the treatment becomes expensive and complex in the last stages.
- It is better to go for sun baths instead of opting for tanning beds.
Images, Pics, Photos of Basal Cell Carcinoma :
Treatment for BCC depends on the place of the cancer and the time period from which you are suffering from cancer. Here is the list of some important treatments doctors usually recommend to BCC patients. Whatever the treatment method may be, the doctors aim is to completely remove the cancer cells leaving the least possible scar possible on skin.
- Excision: In the lay man terms, this is cutting out the tumor. Along with the tumor the doctor may cut some skin around it so that all the infected skin cells are removed.
- Curettage and Desiccation: This method uses electricity to prevent the growth of cancer cells (doctors in general use pen shaped device for this) after the surgeon removes tumor with the help of spoon shaped device.
- Cryosurgery : Medical experts use liquid Nitrogen to kill the growth of cancer cells.
- Radiation Therapy : This process usually takes so many days and the treatment is given in sessions. X Rays are used to control the growth of tumor and then the radiation is used to kill the cancer kills. Some patients complain that this method have side effects like hair fall, high fever etc.
- Mohs Surgery : This method is named after the surgeon who first did it and is highly recommended if the tumor is large and it is present in the sensitive area of your body. In this method, the treatment is given layer wise. First the outer most layer of the skin is removed and doctor will examine whether the cancer cells are present in the underneath layer or not and if cancer cells are present then that layer will also be removed and this process continues until all the cancer cells are removed.
- Tablets/pills and creams/lotions : If the BCC is in the initial stages doctor may suggest some creams like imiquimod and fluorouracil (5-FU) which control the growth of tumors. Doctor may even suggest Erivedge (vismodegib) pill so that the cancer won’t spread to other parts of the body.
Before opting for any of these methods you need to get complete idea about your condition and you can get an idea by asking questions like is surgery really necessary, can drugs cure this BCC condition completely, chances of getting other skin cancer or BCC in one more part of the body, alternative treatments etc.