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Basal Cell Carcinoma: Protection and Treatment Options

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. It occurs most frequently in sun-exposed regions of the body. Although this skin cancer rarely spreads (metastasizes) to other organs of the body, it can cause the destruction of surrounding tissue. Thus, early detection and treatment are essential.

Most basal cell carcinomas are caused by chronic sun exposure, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes. In a few instances, there are other contributing factors such as burns, exposure to radiation, arsenical intoxication or chronic dermatitis.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma may have several different appearances on your skin. Some warning signs that may indicate basal cell carcinoma are an open sore, a reddish patch, a growth with an elevated border and a central indentation, a bump or nodule and a scar-like area.

How can you protect yourself?

Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of basal cell carcinoma, sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is an important preventative measure to help reduce the risk of developing this skin cancer.

Limit skin exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF-30+ on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Avoid tanning parlours and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your physician for a skin examination.

Treatment Options

After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be basal cell carcinoma, your doctor will discuss several treatment options. Your doctor’s choice of therapy depends on the size, location and subtype of basal cell carcinoma. Your age and general health are also taken into consideration. The more common treatment options include excisional surgery, cryosurgery (freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen), topical chemotherapy creams, or photodynamic therapy. Your doctor will help you decide which option is best for you.

doctor checking skin cancer

Don't become a statistic

BCC is the most common form of skin cancer and of all cancers, affecting nearly 100,000 Australians each year. Men are affected more often than women. BCC’s generally tend to occur in older individuals, although they may occur in young adults and even children. People with one BCC have a greater chance of developing others.