If youve received at least one blistering sunburn during your childhood you have a greater risk than someone who has received most of their sunburn later in life. Also people with fair skin, blue, green or gray eyes, and blond or red hair, have a greater chance of contracting basal cell carcinoma then someone with darker features. Where you live can also affect your chances since certain places have a higher ultraviolet radiation than others. In some cases it can run in the family, and if you take any immunosuppressant or medications that help prevent organ rejection it increases your risks.
Basal Cell Carcinoma can be caused by lots of things. One of the most common is environmental factors. Environmental factors include exposure from Sun, Arsenic and radiation. Suns the most common of these because everyone gets sun whether it be by tanning beds or just being in the sun. But arsenic exposure which is the hardest to come by since most people does not go around putting arsenic in their systems. Arsenic is a toxic metal commonly found in the environment. Most people get their greatest exposure from food like chicken, beef and fish.
Some even get it from working at certain jobs to long. Then theres radiation. Radiation comes in many ways. Some come in therapeutic ways and some come from natural everyday things. Therapeutically you can get if from Psoralen Plus Ultraviolet A (PUVA) a treatment for Atopic Dermatitis- A skin condition that causes intense itching and a red, raised rash- or from radiation treatments received during childhood for acne or ringworm. Everyday radiation can be received through visible light, infrared radiation and UV radiations.
UV radiation comes in three types, A, B and C, A produces some tanning and isnt blocked out by the atmosphere and is considered harmful over long periods of time. B is what makes you tan and also causes wrinkling sunburn and your skin to age. B is somewhat filtered out by the atmosphere and its Highest intensity is after noon. C is filtered out by the atmosphere by the ozone layer before reaching the earth. It accounts for a major source of artificial germicidal lamps. However there are more than environmental factors at play for skin cancer.
Other factors would include genetics. So far there are three common genetic disorders Xeroderma pigmentosum a disorder where you have an extreme sensitivity to sunlight, Nervoid Basal Cell Carcinoma Syndrome (Gorlins Syndrome) a disorder that causes basal cell tumors all over the body, and Acrokeratosis Neoplastica (Bazexs Syndrome) is a rare inherited disease where hair follicles characterized by the breakdown of follicle and multiple Basal Cell carcinoma on the face, Hypohidrosis (reduced sweating), and Hypotrichosis (reduced body and head hair).
There are eight types of basal cell carcinoma: Nodular, Pigmented, cystic, superficial, Micronodular, Morpheaform, and Basisquamous. Nodular basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of bcc it has a waxy papules (Small solid rounded bumps rising from the skin that are each usually less than 1 centimeter in diameter) with central depressions. Nodular bcc tends to have a pearly skin colored or pinkish appearance. With lesions that act like they are healing over time only to rupture again like an ulcer. Pigmented bcc behaves like nodular bcc except pigmented bcc is easily confused with melanomas.
Even though melanomas dont always have a lot of pigments pigmented bcc isnt very common. Cystic bcc are papules that are blue gray translucent pseudo nodules that mimic benign lesions. Superficial basal cell carcinomas has scaly patches that are anywhere from pink to red-brown, with a thread like border. Commonly found on the trunk (torso) and shoulders. Erosion in superficial bcc is not very common the papules tend to mimic psoriases or eczema, and can take months or years to become apparent. Superficial bcc is most commonly caused by arsenic exposure.
Micronodular basal cell carcinoma is an aggressive subtype of bcc that is not prone to ulceration and appears yellow-white when stretched and is firm to the touch. Morpheaform basal cell carcinoma also known as scelerosing bcc usually found in mid facial sites. Tend to have a waxy scar-like appearance and is prone to recurrences sometimes Morpheaform bcc cab invade cutaneous nerves. Basisquamous bcc is a mix of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basisquamous bcc is also the most aggressive subtype of basal cell carcinoma and can metastasize.
If left untreated basal cell carcinoma can damage surrounding tissue to the point you will need plastic surgery to fix it. Also if you have Basisquamous bcc you run the risk of the cancer metastasizing and turning in to other types of cancers. BCC can also cause severe muscle, nerves and bone damage. You will also be at risk of losing vision if it is close to your eyes and nerve function. There are five major warning signs to Basal Cell Carcinoma including:
1. An open sore that bleeds oozes or crusts and remains open for a few weeks only to heal up and then bleed again. . A reddish patch or irritated area frequently located on the face, chest, shoulders, arms or legs, sometimes the patch crusts and May also itch or hurt. 3. A pearly white or waxy bump often with visible blood vessels on your face, ears, or neck. The bump may bleed develop a crust or form a depression in the center. In darker skinned people this type of tumor is usually brown or black and is sometimes confused as a mole. 4. A scar like area that is white yellow or waxy and often has poorly defined borders. The skin itself appears shiny and tight.
Although this is less frequent sign it can indicate the presence of an aggressive tumor. 5. A pink growth that is slightly elevated rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center as the growth slowly enlarges tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface. If you experience any of these warning signs speak to your doctor immediately and set up an appointment as soon as possible. After you set up your appointment get prepared for a long wait till the day you go. At the doctors he will ask you a lot of questions and its important you can answer them.
Make sure you know your family, medical and personal history and start thinking about someone to take with you to the doctors. Although basal cell carcinoma skin cancer is treatable and rarely fatal its still good to have someone with you. Cancer is cancer and its not the news you want to get on your own at the doctors. Also make sure that you have questions you would want answered dont walk in there clueless. When you get to the doctors you will most likely get a biopsy to test and see whether or not you have it.
There are two different types of biopsys shave and punch, shave is used to diagnosis most basal cell carcinomas but its really easy to miss the tumor or go too far. Punch is the most common method along with the easiest. But cannot be used if you plan on having curettage and electrodessication as your treatment There are 10 different treatments that fall under 4 different types surgery, therapy, radiation, and medications. The surgery consists of Mohs micrographic, Excisional, cryo, curettage and electrodessication, and laser surgery.
During Mohs Micrographic surgery the surgeon removes the tumor with the tissue around it then checks the tumor for additional cancers. Excisional surgery the surgeon cuts out the lesion and the skin is stitched up. This treatment is most commonly used for nodular bcc and morphemic basal cell carcinoma. If the lesions are very large he may require a flap or skin graft to repair the cut after surgery. Cryosurgery is where the dermatologist uses liquid nitrogen and freezes the tumor. Mainly used to treat external tumors.
Curettage and Electrodessication the surgeon or dermatologist uses a curette (spoon like instrument) to scoop out the bcc. Electrodessication (uses of electric current) is added to control bleeding and kill the remaining cancer cells. The skin will heal with out stitching but this treatment is only useful for small non crucial bccs. Laser surgery is the last surgery treatment of bcc. Laser surgery consists of using high intensity light to treat cancer. The lasers can be used to shrink or destroy tumors. But laser surgery is most commonly used to treat superficial cancers.
Lasers can also relieve certain symptoms of cancer such as bleeding or obstruction. If the tumor is still present in the deeper skin then the procedure is repeated to the last layer examined is cancer free. Therapy consist of chemotherapy, biological, photodynamic. Most people know what chemotherapy is. Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment for most all cancers. It means your treating your cancer with the use of anti-cancer drugs. For skin cancer the drugs come in a lotion or cream. Chemo is for superficial tumors that have not advanced beyond the top layer of skin.
With skin cancer chemo doesnt tend to cause nausea. Biological therapy treats to uses our bodys own natural defenses to attack and destroy cancer cells. In biological therapy the white blood cells are removed grown in a lab and exposed to substances that boost there ability to fight cancer. The activated cells are then injected back into the body to attack the tumor. Biological therapy is mainly used for the advanced forms of cancer that cant be treated by other methods. Photodynamic uses drugs that collect inside the tumor.
The doctor then focuses a special l light on the tumor the light triggers a chemical reaction in the drug that destroys tumor cells. But doesnt harm the surrounding health tissue. The last treatment is Radiation is a complicated treatment because when you stop and think radiation can cause some basal cell carcinomas. To treat bcc with radiation doctors use high powered x-ray beams directed at the tumor. To completely destroy the tumor it takes several treatments. Most of the time radiation is only used for tumors that are hard to deal with surgically and when the patients health is poor.
However radiation can cause long term cosmetic problems and radiation risks. Some of the causes would be rash red or dryness of the treated area and changes in skin texture or color that will become more noticeable throughout the years. After treatment there are some post treatment things you need to be aware of Follow up appointments are scheduled. Once youve had a form of basal cell carcinoma its extremely hard to eliminate it completely you have an increase chance of getting it again and a good chance that it will appear in the same spot.
Perform regular self-examinations of your skin. Watch for early signs of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinomas treated incompletely can recur. All treated sites must be monitored after therapy. Individuals with basal cell carcinoma have a 30% greater risk of having another basal cell carcinoma unrelated to the previous lesion compared with the risk in the general population. (eMedicine) perform self checks to perform self checks you will need a full length mirror a handheld mirror and a well lit room that offers privacy. After you collect all your materials start performing the self check.
You and your partner examine your entire body as skin cancer can occur anywhere, not only on areas frequently exposed to the sun. Be sure to check your back, scalp, underarms, genitals, palms, soles, and skin between the toes and fingers. When examining your scalp, it may help to part the hair to check the entire scalp. Look for: 1) you should become familiar with your birthmarks, blemishes, and moles so you know what they look like and can spot changes. As you or your partner examines your skin, look for changes in the size, color, shape, or texture of a mark on your skin.
Dont forget to look and watch for any of the five warning signs of skin cancer. After all this information its important to know how to prevent yourself from having to go through this. Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4PM. Do Not Burn. Avoid Tanning and UV tanning booth. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like youve been in the sun, consider using sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it. Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Use Sun Screen Year Round. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating. Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months. Sunscreen should not be used to prolong sun exposure. Some UV light gets through sunscreen. Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapplied approximately every two hours and after being in water or sweating.
Sunscreen does not make sunbathing safe so dont stay out in the sun just because you have sunscreen on. Get plenty of vitamin d beware of sun-sensitizing medications. Some common prescription and over-the-counter drugs make your skin more sensitive to sunlight like certain cholesterols, High blood pressure and diabetes medications, Ibuprofen, Acne medication. Make sure you ask your doctor about any side affects your prescriptions might have. Examine your skin head to toe every month. See your doctor every year for a professional skin exam.