Skin cancer is a serious condition that affects millions worldwide. Among the various types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common. Chevy Chase basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 80% of all skin cancers diagnosed globally. It mostly affects individuals with fair skin, but anyone can develop this type of cancer.
What is Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?
Basal cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that begins in the basal cells found in the epidermis’s lowest layer. These cells produce new skin cells, which are important in skin regeneration. BCC develops in areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, scalp, and arms, although it can also occur in other areas.
Causes and risk factors
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the primary cause of basal cell carcinoma. Other factors include fair skin, a history of sunburns, a weakened immune system, exposure to certain chemicals, and a family history of skin cancer.
Symptoms and diagnosis
The early stages of basal cell carcinoma may appear as a small, shiny, translucent pink or flesh-colored bump. Over time, it may develop into a sore that won’t heal or a reddish patch of irritated skin. BCC grows slowly and rarely spreads to other body parts, but can cause considerable damage if left untreated. To diagnose basal cell carcinoma, a dermatologist will examine the affected area and may perform a biopsy, where a small sample of the skin is taken for laboratory testing.
The treatment for basal cell carcinoma depends on various factors, including the tumor’s size, location, aggressiveness, and the patient’s overall health. Common treatment options include:
- Surgical excision
To guarantee complete removal, the surgical procedure removes the tumor and the adjacent healthy tissue margin.
- Mohs surgery
A precise surgical technique involves removing thin layers of tissue one at a time and examining them under a microscope until no cancer cells are detected.
The tumor is frozen with liquid nitrogen, causing it to shrink and eventually fall off.
- Radiation therapy
High-energy X-rays are directed at the tumor to destroy cancer cells.
- Topical medications
Certain prescription creams or gels can be applied directly to the affected area to eliminate superficial basal cell carcinomas.
Prevention and sun safety
Here are some sun safety measures to consider:
- Seek shade and wear protective clothing
Avoid direct sun exposure, especially during the 10 am to 4 pm peak hours. Wear long sleeves, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Use sunscreen
Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every two hours after swimming or sweating.
- Use sunglasses
Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses blocking UVA and UVB radiation. Look for sunglasses with a label indicating 100% UV protection.
- Check the UV index
Stay informed about the UV index in your location. The UV index provides information about the intensity of UV radiation and can help you plan outdoor activities accordingly. Take extra precautions to protect your skin when the UV index is high.
Speak to your doctor at Ali Hendi, MD, for a personalized basal cell carcinoma treatment plan.