Basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer)

Skin | Oncology | Basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) (Disease)


Basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. Usually it doesn’t metastasize nor kill. However, it is still considered malignant, because it can cause significant destruction and disfigurement by invading surrounding tissues.

Causes and Risk factors

Basal cell carcinoma starts in the top layer of the skin called the epidermis. It grows slowly and is painless. The majority of these cancers occur on areas of skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation. Basal cell skin cancer used to be more common in people over age 40, but is now often diagnosed in younger people.

Risk for basal cell skin cancer is higher for: light-colored skin, blue or green eyes, blond or red hair and overexposure to x-rays or other forms of radiation. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly over months or even years. A typical lesion develops in the following way: a small, painless lump appears; it has a smooth surface with blood vessels, a pink to brownish-grey color, and a waxy or pearl-like border; the lump gradually grows, usually spreading outwards and developing a central depression with rolled edges.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A doctor must examine the skin and the size, shape, color, and texture of any suspicious areas. If skin cancer is a possibility, a piece of skin will be removed from the area and examined under a microscope (skin biopsy).

Treatment varies depending on the size, depth, and location of the basal cell cancer. These procedures may be done: standard surgical excision, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation. ...