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Basal Cell Carcinoma

What is Basal cell carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common malignancy in humans. Over 900,000 cases of BCC are diagnosed in the United States every year. The estimated lifetime risk of BCC in the Caucasian population is 33-39% in men and 23-28% in women.

BCC usually presents as a slow growing, skin colored or reddish, and non-healing skin growth of varying duration. Mild trauma, such as face washing, shaving or drying with a towel, may cause bleeding. BCC primarily occurs in areas of chronic sun exposure and is typically seen on the face, ears, scalp, neck, or upper trunk. Chronic recreational or occupational sun exposure, as well as, intense sun exposure that often occurred in childhood or young adulthood contribute to development of BCC.BCC is usually slow growing and only very rarely metastasizes.

What are the treatments available for Basal cell carcinoma?

The treatment is however essential to prevent clinically significant local destruction and potential disfigurement. Overall prognosis is usually excellent with proper therapy. Both medical and surgical therapeutic options exist for management of BCC.

Medical therapy includes chemotherapeutic and/or immune-modulating agents and is usually reserved for the most superficial subtypes of BCC.

The common surgical treatment options include cryotherapy (freezing), curettage, excision with margin examination, Mohs micrographic surgery, and radiotherapy. The choice of therapy depends on the size and location of the tumor, its histological subtype, whether or not the tumor has been previously treated, and patient's health issues and personal preferences.

How to prevent from developing basal cell carcinoma?

Sun protection is essential in prevention of BCC. Simple helpful preventive measures include planning outdoor activities before 10 am and after 4 pm, wearing a broad-brimmed hat during outdoor activities, and using sunscreens with sun protection factor of 30 or higher. Individuals with one BCC have a 30% greater risk of having another BCC, unrelated to the previous lesion, compared with the risk in the general population. All previously treated sites must be monitored after therapy as incompletely treated BCCs may recur.