Basal cell carcinoma, type of skin cancer is considered to be one of the most common cancers. This condition is quite common as out of 10 Caucasian people about 3 people develop basal cell cancer. It is estimated that in the US alone 800,000 new cases of basal cell carcinoma are reported every year. This variety of skin cancer usually does not spread to other distant organs from its site of origin (usually does not metastasize) and rarely kills the affected person. However because of its potential to cause disfigurement and destruction of tissue it is considered as a malignant lesion.
Basal cell carcinoma in most of the cases (about 80% cases) occur in the head and neck region however during recent times appearance of lesions of basal cell carcinoma in the trunk has also increased.
As the name suggests basal carcinoma arises from the basal cells of the skin, these basal cells are known to produce new skin cells following death of older cells. Although the lesion of basal cell carcinoma may take different forms the most common presentation is appearance of a waxy bump like skin lesion.
Prolonged exposure to sun light (UV radiation) is one of the most common risk factors associated with basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs in people above 50 years of age although young people are also diagnosed with this type of skin cancer.
Treatment options depend upon the variety, location and extent of the lesion of basal cell cancer. The common treatment options include electrodesiccation and curettage, surgical excision, freezing, Mohs surgery and drugs either to be applied locally on the lesion or to be taken systemically for management of advanced cases of basal cell carcinoma.
Lesions of basal cell carcinoma usually arise in the sun exposed part of the body, usually in the head and neck area and rarely on the trunk. Although currently appearances of lesions in the trunk has also been increased and lesions may also rarely appear on areas of the body rarely exposed to sun light.
Like other types of skin cancer the most important warning sign of basal cell carcinoma is presence of an ulcer for prolonged period without healing and repeated episodes of bleeding and scab formation. Usually
Other common presentations of basal cell carcinoma are
1. Appearance of pearly white or wax colored skin lesions with visible blood vessels on the surface of the lesions. This type of lesion tends to bleed and subsequently may develop crusting. In dark skinned persons these lesions usually appear brown or black in color.
2. Appearance of flat topped, brownish to flesh colored skin lesion with increased exfoliation of skin (scaling). These patchy lesions usually appear on the chest and back region and with time these patches grow in size.
3. Rarely white waxy scar like lesion may appear. This variety of lesions of basal cell carcinoma are hard to locate but these lesions may typically be the outward sign of underlying invasive and disfiguring variety of basal cell carcinoma, the morpheaform basal cell carcinoma.
Several complications may arise due to basal cell carcinoma. These are
1. Increased risk of recurrence of skin lesions even after successful management of the primary lesion. Typically the recurrent lesions appear in the same site as the primary lesion.
2. Increased occurrence of lesions of other varieties of skin cancer mainly squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
3. Spread of cancer beyond the skin to other adjacent structures namely the muscles, nerves and bones may also occur. Under rare circumstances the disease may spread to other distant organs.