Different types of cancers plague human beings. However, skin cancer stands out with its huge number of victims. More than 100,000 people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma annually. Cancer results from the uncontrolled multiplication of cells. These cells accumulate into masses called tumors. They then consume nutrients and oxygen meant for neighboring cells. Without these, the real cells will not survive. The largest category of cancers of the skin is basal cell carcinoma. To understand this type of cancer, we must mention that it starts in the cells called basal. When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, basal cells located in the skin's epidermis grow uncontrollably. It is a non-melanoma skin cancer with prolonged growth. It rarely spreads to other body organs. Patients are advised to seek treatment, as its cure rate is very promising.
Basal Cell Carcinoma vs. Other Skin Cancers
Basal Cell Carcinoma vs. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell skin cancer develops in the basal cells, while squamous cells develop in the squamous. Basal cell carcinoma mainly hits sun-exposed parts, while squamous cell carcinoma can develop even in areas not exposed to sunlight. These areas include the genitals.
Basal Cell Carcinoma vs. Merkel Cell Cancer
Merkel cell cancer starts in the Merkel cells, while basal cell begins around the epidermis. Basal cell carcinoma attacks people of all ages, but Merkel carcinoma mainly affects people above 50.
Basal Cell Carcinoma vs. Melanoma
Unlike basal cells, melanoma first hits the melanocytes. They can be described as melanin-producing cells. Basal cell carcinoma develops in the basal cells. It is, however, harmful too and calls for immediate treatment.
Basal Cell Carcinoma vs. Cutaneous Lymphoma
For this type of skin cancer, the area of initial development is the lymph nodes. This is where anti-disease cells like T-cells are formed. They are all over the body. This is different from basal cell carcinoma, which as mentioned already, develops in the epidermis.
Signs and Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma
The good thing about basal cell carcinoma is that there are signs and symptoms one can look out for to stay safe. They include:
- Open sores that do not self-heal - People sometimes have sores that occur persistently. They occasionally breed and ooze, though, in rare cases. They might heal but resurface after some days.
- The area appears reddish - It could be on the face, shoulder, or chest. One interesting fact is that it sometimes does not cause any discomfort.
- Shinny bumps - The word shinny means clear or white. In some instances, it can appear tan or brown.
- Pink growths on the skin - People tend to ignore these signs very often. A growth with a rolled edge is a bad sign, and with time, it might develop tiny blood vessels.
- An area that might appear like a scar - A yellow or waxy spot on shinny or taut skin may indicate invasive basal cell carcinoma.
Basal cell skin cancer is treatable in early and advanced stages. Several treatment options are available and effective.
Curettage and electrodessication are basic electrosurgery, which is recommended for basal cell carcinoma lesions that are relatively small. The doctor scraps it using a curette. It is a sharp tool with a ring-shaped tip. They then destroy the remaining cancerous cells. They use chemical agents or heat. The wound is then sealed after the bleeding stops. It sometimes has to be repeated several times (in the same session) to be effective. If performed on a small lesion, it has a 95% curing rate.
Mohs surgery is the most recommended treatment for basal cell cancer and has a curing rate of 99%. Doctors use it on severe and aggressive basal cell carcinoma (BCC). It is also helpful when dealing with recurring cases. Medical experts use it mainly on areas around the eyes, lips, fingers, and genitals. It is performed by removing the visible tumors together with the tissue around them. They repeat this until they remove all the cancerous cells. The wound is then treated.
Excisional surgery is quite simple. Doctors remove tissue around the suspected area and take it for testing. If there are cancerous cells beyond the removed tissue's margin, then more is removed. They repeat this until all the cancer cells are entirely removed.
Skin cancer cases have increased in recent years. The leading cause of skin cancers like basal cell cancer is exposure to UV radiation. However, this skin cancer is treatable or, better yet, avoidable. Understanding its symptoms can help people identify and treat it.