Basal cell skin cancer, or basal cell carcinoma, is considered a nonmelanoma skin cancer. It is the most common form of skin cancer diagnosed across the world. A nonmelanoma skin cancer is generally thought to be less serious than a melanoma skin cancer, with better prognosis and less invasive treatments necessary. Skin neoplasia is also another name for skin cancer.
Out of all the skin cancers that are diagnosed in the United States this particular type of accounts for 90% of the cases. Basal cell skin cancer rarely spreads to the rest of the body. It does, however, invade the tissue in the immediate area and can cause structural damage.
Limiting time in the sun without UV light protection will help to reduce your risk of developing basal skin cancer, especially for those who are fair skinned and older. Both of these groups of people are at a greater risk for developing basal cell skin cancer. The area of the body that is most at risk for developing skin cancer is the face, which also has the most exposure to the sun. Other risk factors for the development of basal cell skin cancer include certain medications, a weakened bodily system due to illness, tanning booths, and living in climates with UV radiation at high levels.
Any changes in the skin should be examined by a physician immediately to rule out any type of skin cancer. Basal cell skin cancer generally makes its first appearance as a small lump that is shaped like a dome. This lump will appear shiny and opaque with noticeable blood vessels covering it. A biopsy is needed to determine that it is a basal cell skin cancer and not a mole. If the basal cell skin cancer contains any melanin pigment it will appear as a darkened area instead of the most common shiny type. It may even look like patches of dry skin. Basal cell skin cancer may appear over several years or months due to its slow growing nature.
The physician, most likely a dermatologist, will want to do a biopsy on the area in question. This is done by either scraping the skin or cutting out a piece of skin for examination under a microscope. If cancer cells were determined in the biopsy specimen then treatment would be discussed with the patient.
Common methods for removal of a basal cell skin cancer are by either:
Curettage and desiccation, which is the method of choice. This is done by removal of the central aspect of the lesion and then the use of an electrical current to destroy the cancer cells that are left behind. This is a very common form of treatment by physicians due to its decreased potential for scarring.
Surgical excision: This method is done by removing the lesion by cutting and then using stitches to close the area.
Other methods used are radiation therapy, Mohs therapy, cryosurgery, and the usage of cream geared specifically toward destroying cancer cells.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is simple. Avoid the sun the majority of the time and when you do have to be out, safeguard your skin with sunscreen and clothing.
Skin Cancer Foundation: Basal Cell Carcinoma
MayoClinic: Basal Cell Carcinoma
Medline Plus: Basal Cell Carcinoma
American Cancer Society: skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cell
American Academy of Dermatology: Basal Cell Carcinoma