How Widespread Is Bcc
Basal cell carcinoma is quite common. The number of reported cases in the U.S. has steadily increased.
- An estimated 3.6 million Americans are diagnosed with BCC each year.
- More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs.
- The diagnosis and treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers, including BCC and squamous cell carcinoma , increased up to 77 percent between 1994 and 2014.
Medical Treatment For Skin Cancer
Surgical removal is the mainstay of skin cancer treatment for both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. For more information, see Surgery.People who cannot undergo surgery may be treated by external radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is the use of a small beam of radiation targeted at the skin lesion. The radiation kills the abnormal cells and destroys the lesion. Radiation therapy can cause irritation or burning of the surrounding normal skin. It can also cause fatigue. These side effects are temporary. In addition, topical chemotherapy creams have been FDA approved for the treatment of certain low-risk nonmelanoma skin cancers. Patients with advanced or many basal cell carcinomas are sometimes prescribed oral pills to block the growth of these cancers. Side effects include muscle spasms, hair loss, taste changes, weight loss and fatigue.
In advanced cases of melanoma, immune therapies, vaccines, or chemotherapy may be used. These treatments are typically offered as clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies of new therapies to see if they can be tolerated and work better than existing therapies.
What Causes Basal Cell Carcinoma
A change to your DNA causes basal cell carcinoma. This change usually happens after your skin has too much exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight or tanning beds.
Your genes give your bodys DNA instructions to make new cells to replace cells that reach the end of their lifespan by copying and replicating themselves. If a mutation affects one of your genes, your DNA wont have the instructions to make new cells as it should.
Basal cells make new cells similar to how youd turn on a light switch when you enter a room. When you need to enter a room, you turn on the light. When you leave that room, you turn the light switch off. Basal cells make new cells when their light switch is in the on position. If a genetic mutation targets your DNA, your basal cells arent able to turn off the light switch when they leave a room. This causes your basal cells to make too many cells, which causes lumps or lesions to form in the outer layer of your skin .
A rare inherited condition called basal cell nevus syndrome causes BCC to appear in childhood.
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For More Information About Skin Cancer
National Cancer Institute, Cancer Information Service Toll-free: 4-CANCER 422-6237TTY : 332-8615
Skin Cancer Foundation
Media file 1: Skin cancer. Malignant melanoma.
Media file 2: Skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma.
Media file 3: Skin cancer. Superficial spreading melanoma, left breast. Photo courtesy of Susan M. Swetter, MD, Director of Pigmented Lesion and Cutaneous Melanoma Clinic, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, Stanford University Medical Center, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.
Media file 4: Skin cancer. Melanoma on the sole of the foot. Diagnostic punch biopsy site located at the top. Photo courtesy of Susan M. Swetter, MD, Director of Pigmented Lesion and Cutaneous Melanoma Clinic, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, Stanford University Medical Center, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.
Media file 5: Skin cancer. Melanoma, right lower cheek. Photo courtesy of Susan M. Swetter, MD, Director of Pigmented Lesion and Cutaneous Melanoma Clinic, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, Stanford University Medical Center, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.
Media file 6: Skin cancer. Large sun-induced squamous cell carcinoma on the forehead and temple. Image courtesy of Dr. Glenn Goldman.
How Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Diagnosed
The first step in diagnosing BCC will be a visual inspection from a dermatologist. Theyll check your skin head-to-toe to look for any skin growths or discolorations. Theyll also ask about your medical history, including family history of skin cancers.
If your dermatologist finds any discolorations or growths of concern, theyll take a biopsy of the skin. To do this, theyll inject a numbing agent into the skin before removing a small sample of the lesion for testing. The biopsy will be viewed under a microscope to look for skin cancer.
Your dermatologist will remove the growth if BCC is found. If you have an aggressive form of BCC, your doctor may take a biopsy of your lymph nodes to check for metastasis.
Treatment for basal cell carcinoma involves removing the growth. Your doctor will recommend a treatment depending on the type of BCC you have, the size of the lesion, and the location of the lesion. Treatment options include:
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What Is The Difference Between Basal Cell Carcinoma And Other Cancers
Basal cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer that can affect your health. Other types of skin cancer include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma : This is the second most common type of skin cancer after BCC. Its caused by the overproduction of squamous cells in your skin that create cancerous tumors. The most common place for cutaneous SCC to form is on the sun-exposed skin on your head and neck, trunk and extremities.
- Melanoma: Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in melanocytes that are responsible for giving your skin pigment. Melanoma is less common than BCC or SCC but may spread quickly throughout your body if not caught early and treated.
How Serious Is My Cancer
If you have skin cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread. This is called staging.
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers don’t spread as often as some other types of cancer, so the exact stage might not be too important. Still, your doctor might want to find out the stage of your cancer to help decide what type of treatment is best for you.
The stage describes the growth or spread of the cancer through the skin. It also tells if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body that are close by or farther away.
Your cancer can be stage 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread beyond the skin. Be sure to ask the doctor about the cancer stage and what it means for you.
Other things can also help you and your doctor decide how to treat your cancer, such as:
- Where the cancer is on your body
- How fast the cancer has been growing
- If the cancer is causing symptoms, such as being painful or itchy
- If the cancer is in a place that was already treated with radiation
- If you have a weakened immune system
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The Most Common Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 3.6 million cases are diagnosed each year. BCCs arise from abnormal, uncontrolled growth of basal cells.
Because BCCs grow slowly, most are curable and cause minimal damage when caught and treated early. Understanding BCC causes, risk factors and warning signs can help you detect them early, when they are easiest to treat and cure.
The Risks The Causes What You Can Do
Basal cell carcinoma is caused by damage and subsequent DNA changes to the basal cells in the outermost layer of skin. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning is the major cause of BCCs and most skin cancers.
Understanding what causes BCC and the factors that increase your risk of getting it can help you prevent the disease or detect it in its earliest stages, when its easiest to treat.
These factors increase your BCC risk:
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What Makes Yale Medicines Approach To Basal Cell Carcinoma Unique
Yale Medicine receives referrals from community dermatologists all over the country. We receive a very high volume of referrals, so regardless of how unusual the case may be, it’s likely we’ve seen it before, says Dr. Christensen. We work closely with a team of specialized skin pathologists in our dermatopathology lab who evaluate skin samples that could be cancerous or pre-cancerous. Then, our dermatologic surgeons use their expertise to safely remove these spots.
Different Kinds Of Skin Cancer
There are many types of skin cancer. Some are very rare. Your doctor can tell you more about the type you have.
The two most common kinds of skin cancers are:
- Basal cell cancer, which starts in the lowest layer of the skin
- Squamous cell cancer, which starts in the top layer of the skin
Another kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. These cancers start from the color-making cells of the skin . You can read about melanoma in If You Have Melanoma Skin Cancer.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
The skin consists of three layers. The top layer, called the epidermis, is where most skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, arise.
This information is about basal cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinomas are most commonly found on the face, neck, hands, or other parts of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun.
The first sign of basal cell carcinoma is an unusual growth on your skin. You may notice a waxy lump or a small, smooth, shiny, or pale growth. Or there may not be a lump at all, but instead you notice a flat spot that looks slightly different from the rest of your skin.
Some basal cell carcinomas develop so slowly that you only notice them after theyve been there for a while.
Basal cell carcinoma can appear in one of several ways:
- a small, smooth, shiny, or pale growth
- a waxy-looking lump
- a red patch or irritated area
- a small, pink, pearly bump
- a white or yellow scar-like area
- a smooth growth with a dent or dimple in the middle
- a bleeding or oozing sore
This type of skin cancer rarely causes pain when its developing. However, it may bleed after a minor injury, then form a scab and heal. Since a spot like this can scab and heal over and over again for months or years without seeming to grow, its easy to think that it is just a sore or a wound.
What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma
Its a type of skin cancer that grows slowly and is not life-threatening for most people, but if its not treated, it can grow deep, injuring nerves and blood vessels, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Basal cell carcinoma lesions do not tend to spread, as some more serious skin cancers, such as melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma, are known to do, OConnor noted in his memo.
“They do, however, have the potential to increase in size, resulting in a more significant issue as well as increased challenges for surgical removal,” he wrote.
This skin cancer often develops on the head, neck and rams places on the body that have had a lot of sun exposure and can be mistaken for a pimple, scar, sore or a patch of dry, irritated skin.
The eyelids in particular are at a bit of a higher risk because we typically dont put any kind of skin protection on those, and when we wear sunglasses, sometimes the sun can sneak in behind the sunglasses, NBC senior medical correspondent John Torres said on TODAY.
The AAD has . It often shows up as a shiny, raised and round growth that’s most commonly red or pink in color.
Basal cell carcinoma is most commonly diagnosed in people over 50, but it can also occur in younger adults whove had extensive sun exposure, the National Library of Medicine noted.
Patients often first notice it as a spot, lump or scaly patch on their skin thats growing or feels different from the rest of their skin, the AAD says.
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Exams And Tests For Skin Cancer
If you think a mole or other skin lesion has turned into skin cancer, your primary care provider will probably refer you to a dermatologist. The dermatologist will examine any moles in question and, in many cases, the entire skin surface. Any lesions that are difficult to identify, or are thought to be skin cancer, may then be checked. Tests for skin cancer may include:
- The doctor may use a handheld device called a dermatoscope to scan the lesion. Another handheld device, MelaFind, scans the lesion then a computer program evaluates images of the lesion to indicate if it’s cancerous.
- A sample of skin will be taken so that the suspicious area of skin can be examined under a microscope.
- A biopsy is done in the dermatologist’s office.
If a biopsy shows that you have malignant melanoma, you may undergo further testing to determine the extent of spread of the disease, if any. This may involve blood tests, a chest X-ray, and other tests as needed. This is only needed if the melanoma is of a certain size.
What About Other Treatments That I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
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Effective Options For Early And Advanced Bcc
When detected early, most basal cell carcinomas can be treated and cured. Prompt treatment is vital, because as the tumor grows, it becomes more dangerous and potentially disfiguring, requiring more extensive treatment. Certain rare, aggressive forms can be fatal if not treated promptly.
If youve been diagnosed with a small or early BCC, a number of effective treatments can usually be performed on an outpatient basis, using a local anesthetic with minimal pain. Afterwards, most wounds can heal naturally, leaving minimal scarring.
For Connecting And Sharing During A Cancer Journey
Anyone with cancer, their caregivers, families, and friends, can benefit from help and support. The American Cancer Society offers the Cancer Survivors Network , a safe place to connect with others who share similar interests and experiences. We also partner with CaringBridge, a free online tool that helps people dealing with illnesses like cancer stay in touch with their friends, family members, and support network by creating their own personal page where they share their journey and health updates.
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Nevoid Basal Cell Carcinoma Syndrome
In addition to basal cell carcinoma, this autosomal dominant disorder can result in the early formation of multiple odontogenic keratocysts, palmoplantar pitting, intracranial calcification, and rib anomalies. Various tumors such as medulloblastomas, meningioma, fetal rhabdomyoma, and ameloblastoma also can occur.
Odontogenic keratocysts, palmoplantar pitting, intracranial calcification, and rib anomalies may be seen. Mutations in the hedgehog signaling pathway, particularly the patched gene, are causative.
Go to Nevoid Basal Cell Carcinoma Syndrome to see more complete information on this topic.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. Also known as BCC, this skin cancer tends to grow slowly and can be mistaken for a harmless pimple, scar, or sore.
Common signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma
This skin cancer often develops on the head or neck and looks like a shiny, raised, and round growth.
To help you spot BCC before it grows deep into your skin, dermatologists share these 7 warning signs that could be easily missed.
If you find any of the following signs on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist.
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Taking Care Of Yourself
After you’ve been treated for basal cell carcinoma, you’ll need to take some steps to lower your chance of getting cancer again.
Check your skin. Keep an eye out for new growths. Some signs of cancer include areas of skin that are growing, changing, or bleeding. Check your skin regularly with a hand-held mirror and a full-length mirror so that you can get a good view of all parts of your body.
Avoid too much sun. Stay out of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UVB burning rays are strongest.
Use sunscreen. The suns UVA rays are present all day long — thats why you need daily sunscreen. Make sure you apply sunscreen with at least a 6% zinc oxide and a sun protection factor of 30 to all parts of the skin that aren’t covered up with clothes every day. You also need to reapply it every 60 to 80 minutes when outside.
Dress right. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and cover up as much as possible, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Specialized Care For The Most Common Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma also called basal cell cancer is the most common type of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 80 percent of all skin cancer cases.
One of the three primary types of cells that make up the skin , basal cells are located at the bottom of the epidermis.
Although basal cell carcinomas usually grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body, if left untreated, they can grow deeply into the skin and bone.
Its important that they are entirely removed to prevent recurrence in the same area.
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