Basal cell carcinoma is one type of skin cancer. It develops in the basal cells, at the bottom of the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.
Basal cell carcinoma can be caused by:
- UV radiation found in sunlight, tanning lamps and tanning beds
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Condition that weakens the immune system
Basal cell carcinomas usually develop on the parts of your body, the head and neck, directly exposed to sun. They can occur on the trunk and legs, or parts that are rarely exposed to sun, but with fewer incidences.
Generally, a sore appears that won't heal or that repeatedly bleeds. However, it may develop as:
- A pearly white or waxy bump on your face, ears or neck. The bump may bleed and develop a crust. In darker skinned people, this type of cancer may be brown or black.
- A flat, scaly, brown or flesh-colored patch on your back or chest, which can grow quite large.
- More rarely, a white, waxy scar. This type is easy to overlook, but it may be a sign of an invasive cancer called morpheaform basal cell carcinoma.
Skin Cancer Risk factors
- Long exposure to sun, radiation or arsenic
- Fair skin or if you frckle or sunburn easily; it is rare in black people
- Gender – it has higher incidence in men than in women
- Age – usually it develops after 50 years of age
- Family history of skin cancer
- Inherited syndromes that cause skin cancer such as rare genetic diseases or xeroderma pigmentosum (causing extreme sensitivity to sunlight, not being able to repair damage to the skin)
- Immuno-suppressing drugs which weaken the immune system, thus cancer can more easily attack the body
Basal cell carcinoma usually recurs, most often in the same place. If recurrent, it can develop into other skin cancer types. The worst complication is to spread to nearby muscles, nerves, or bones, and rarely, to other areas of the body.
To reduce the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma you can:
- Avoid the sunny periods of the midday
- Wear sunscreen – with an SPF of at least 15; if you're swimming, reapply every two hours or more often.
- Wear protective clothing – wear dark clothing that covers your arms and legs, a hat; wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays
- Avoid tanning beds because they emit UV rays
- Check your skin for any changes – look for any changes, even in the hidden parts
- Regaular screening if you alredy had a basal cell carcinoma