Basal cell carcinoma, also known as basalioma or basal cell cancer, is the most common type of skin cancer and carries the least amount of risk, though it still requires attention. If caught and treated early, basal cell carcinomas are not likely to be life-threatening, but they do have the potential to cause disfigurement of the skin tissue.
Almost one million new cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and up to 30% of Caucasians may develop basal cell carcinomas in their lifetime.
Skin cancer is considered low risk when the affected cells remain clustered in a single group. Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are rarely life threatening. Though it is unlikely to spread to other parts of your body, if left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can move into nearby bone or other tissue.
Basal cell carcinoma typically begins as a small, shiny bump on the face, although it can occur on any part of the body.
More than 90 percent of all skin cancer is caused by long-term exposure to UV radiation. Thus, basal cell carcinoma is more common in people who spend long hours outside, whether for work or play, and in anyone with a long history of sun exposure. As with other forms of skin cancer, those with fair skin, blond hair and light-colored eyes are also at a greater risk.
Although the number of incidents of basal cell carcinoma used to be higher with men, today more women are reporting cases. Incidents of basal cell carcinoma are most likely in people over 50, but can also begin appearing as early as the teenage years.
There is no single “look” for basal cell carcinoma. Lesions can be pink, black or brown, or look like a shiny pink or red patch on your skin. Sometimes, it looks like a flesh-colored mole. One main characteristic of basal cell carcinomas is that they tend to be fragile and can bleed easily.
Basal cell carcinoma can be treated in several different ways depending on the size of the cancer, its location, how long you have had the tumor and how much scarring is likely to occur with each treatment.
Options for treating basal cell carcinoma include:
If the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, or if it has come back after surgery, your doctor may prescribe certain medications. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend the use of a prescription cream for several weeks.
If you are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, your dermatologist will discuss options with you to determine the best treatment plan.
Although treatments are very successful when skin cancer is caught early, the best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from sunlight. Make smart sun habits a part of your daily healthcare regimen.
*Results may vary by individual