All About Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer—3.6 million cases are diagnosed each year. And it’s the most commonly diagnosed of all cancers.

What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that millions of people get each year from sun exposure. Basal cells are a type of cell in the top layer of the skin. They are susceptible to DNA damage from the sun. Once damaged, these basal cells grow uncontrollably.

What Does it Look Like?

Basal cell carcinoma comes in all different shapes and sizes and colors. It’s brown for people with deep skin tones, and pink for people with fair skin tones. Some are elevated, have a rolled edge, and have an indentation in the middle. Others look like:

  • Open sores
  • Shiny scars
  • Bumps
  • Red patches

What Does It Do?

Lesions can bleed, ooze, crust, and itch. They’re slow-growing, which means most people can get diagnosed and treated before it’s too late.

It’s Rarely Life-Threatening

Basal cell carcinoma usually stays in place (it rarely spreads to other parts of the body). Still, if left untreated, it can grow and cause problems like destroying skin, tissue, and bone.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Stages

There are several stages of basal cell carcinoma. They start with stage 0, which means cancer has not spread to the deeper layers of skin and is only present in the upper layer. Then the stages progress in the following order:

  • Stage 1: The tumor is smaller than one inch wide.
  • Stage 2: The tumor is larger than one inch wide.
  • Stage 3: Cancer has spread into facial bones and to one lymph node.
  • Stage 4: Cancer has spread to one or more lymph nodes and might have spread to bones and organs.

Mohs Surgery For Basal Cell Removal

With Mohs surgery, a dermatologist removes cancer one layer at a time. They examine each layer under a microscope until they no longer detect abnormal cells. This helps to preserve healthy skin and makes for the smallest scar possible.

Surgical Excision For Basal Cell Removal

Another option for Basal cell removal is surgical excision. This is where a dermatologist cuts out cancer, plus some of the healthy surrounding skin. They then check the healthy skin under a microscope to make sure the cancer cells are gone.

Should I See a Dermatologist?

It’s essential to see your dermatologist if you have a skin lesion that’s changing or meets any of the descriptions above. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly, and people who get diagnosed early have a good chance of survival. We recommend an annual skin checkup with your dermatologist. That way, they can assess your risk for skin cancer and provide early detection and treatment if something is amiss.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Basal cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that millions of people get each year from sun exposure. It varies in appearance from pink to brown, depending on the person’s skin color. It can also look like a scar, sore, bump, or red spot. It can bleed, ooze, and crust over. Sometimes it’s itchy. Although it can spread, it’s rare, and your outlook is good if you get diagnosed early.

Why You Should Self Check Your Skin Often

These summer months have been having increased heat, intensity and longer heat waves. If you are someone who loves being out in the sun, make sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF. It is important to reduce sun exposure where possible to limit your risk for skin cancer and other dangerous skin growths.

It would be beneficial to have an annual examination by a board-certified dermatologist and if you are someone who is always outside, laying out in the sun, then a skin check will be even more critical. In addition to being seen by a licensed professional, between your doctors visits, you should check your skin. You can do so by inspecting your body and face for any new growths, skin patches that have changed in shape or color or texture.

Look out for moles that have changed or new ones that have formed. Spots or sores that bleed or itch are especially worrisome. If your dermatologist screens your mole and finds it to be worrisome or have warning signs of evolving, a biopsy will be taken. We perform shave biopsy or punch biopsy, depending on the type of mole being analyzed for cancer cells. Also, we offer various removal methods for unwanted moles such as surgical excision, cryosurgery and electrodessication and curettage.

If you notice any of those changes to your skin or new growths, contact Skin and Cancer Institute immediately to be seen by a dermatologic surgeon. After a thorough examination and evaluation, a diagnosis will be made and recommendations will be given to you in terms of preventing skin cancer as well as a treatment plan if there is a positive diagnosis for a tumor or pre-cancerous skin lesion.

Due to the various forms of skin growths and the consideration that some may be non-deadly but can evolve into something quite dangerous should re-enforce the notion that there is no substitute for being seen by a professional. When it comes to the development of skin cancer, time is of the essence as the tumor can spread. Therefore, timely detection, diagnosis and treatment is critical. Contact our office to schedule your consultation or your regular skin examination to protect against skin cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Actinic Keratoses & Pre-Cancerous Skin Lesions

Pre-cancerous skin lesions are caused by frequent exposure to UV light. This can be from direct sunlight or the use of tanning beds. A skin lesion that itches, bleeds, grows, burns or is raised or crusting can be worrisome and should be examined by a board-certified dermatologist.

It may be difficult to distinguish between cancerous spots and the non-cancerous spots. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of a pre-cancerous skin lesion that should be evaluated:

  • pink, brown or red color variations of skin
  • wart like bumps or surfaces
  • flat or raised patches of skin or bumps
  • dry, scaly or rough skin or patches of skin

Risk factors or people with a higher risk of developing actinic keratoses include individuals with red or blonde hair or light-colored eyes. Also, individuals with a history of sunburn or excess sun exposure may more susceptible to developing pre-cancerous skin lesions. Individuals who live in a sunny climate or work outdoor or are prone to freckling or burning may also have an increased risk of developing a pre-cancerous skin lesion.

Surgery for Skin Cancer

Skin cancer removal should be performed by a dermatologic surgeon and board-certified dermatologist. The tumor must be fully removed to prevent a chance of recurrence. Depending on the location, size, nature and type of skin cancer, the doctor will make a diagnosis and prepare a treatment plan for removal of the tumor.

Surgery for skin cancer is a common procedure. If the tumor is small and uncomplicated, a local anesthetic may be used. For larger tumors will need an operation.

Types of Surgical Removal for Cancerous Skin Tissue and Tumors:

  • Cryosurgery
  • Curettage and Electrosurgery
  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery
  • Wide Local Excision (To Remove Melanoma Mostly)
  • Skin Grafting
  • Lymph Node Removal in cases of metastasis

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a type of skin cancer including but not limited to basal cell, squamous cell, melanoma or other deadlier forms of skin cancer, consult with one of skin cancer surgeons and dermatologists regarding the best course of treatment for you.

How to Diagnose and Treat the Most Dangerous Form of Skin Cancer, Melanoma

As skin cells which produce pigment mutate and grow, the risk for the development of melanoma arises. Melanoma is the result of a tumor very similar in appearance to a mole but can grow quickly and even spread to other parts of the body. There is a high level of risk associated with Melanoma in particular, over other types of skin cancer including basal and squamous cell carcinoma which are not as fatal.

What Happens During Your Examination

A diagnosis is made after your physical exam takes place where the board-certified dermatologist removes and tests a tissue sample. During the biopsy, your skin cancer dermatologist may opt for removal of the suspicious growth by punch biopsy or excisional biopsy.

If you have a positive diagnosis for melanoma, the next determination by your doctor would be the stage level and severity of the cancerous tumor.

Important Factors and Considerations

Your doctor will review the thickness of the tumor to determine whether it can be removed with difficulty or ease. The thicker the tumor, the more severe it is.

Another important check would be to ensure the melanoma has not spread to your lymph nodes. If this is considered a risk or possibility, your doctor my recommend a sentinel node biopsy. During this particular procedure, a special dye is injected where the melanoma was removed. The dye then flows to the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are then tested for cancer cells. If the test is negative, the implication is that the melanoma has not spread beyond its original location.

Why Old & New Moles Should Be Routinely Examined

If you are an individual who notices new growths of moles frequently due to natural disposition, genetics or even sun exposure, it is important to keep an eye on such developments on your skin. Even old moles that were once examined by a dermatologist, should be re-examined annually for changes in shape, size, texture and elevation.

While moles themselves result from the growth of pigment cells called melanocytes which grow in clusters. Common moles are typically 5 mm wide in a round or oval shape, and have a smooth surface. Common moles can evolve into cancerous moles called melanoma. Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer. Individuals with over 50 moles are at increased risk for developing this type of cancer.

Things to Watch Out For

If your mole changes in color, size, texture, height or the skin’s surface becomes dry or scaly, you should let your doctor know. If the mole becomes hardened or lumpy, starts to itch or bleeds or oozes, those are also warning signs of an evolving mole.

Dysplastic Nevus is a Mole that Looks Different from a Common One

If your mole is larger than 5 mm, and is a mixture of various colors including pink and dark brown you should have your dermatologist examine your skin. This type of mole is called dysplastic nevus.

In the event, your evaluation or examination lead your doctor to assess that the mole should be removed, a biopsy will be performed.

Leading Causes of Skin Cancer

You may be confronted with early warning signs of skin cancer and be completely unaware. You may even know someone who has been personally affected by skin cancer. You may have a loved one who is struggling with it presently. For all these reasons and more, it is essential to identify the leading causes of skin cancer to be aware and able to prevent it from developing.

Most Common Source of Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is caused primarily by the UV rays of the sun. Excessive exposure to the sun without protection can cause skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer.

Not only do UV rays pose a significant risk of skin cancer, but they can be equally dangerous to the health of one’s eyes. Ultraviolet A and B rays can affect the eyes and such exposure can lead to cataracts and even eyelid cancer on the surrounding skin. This is why our dermatologic skin cancer surgeons and board-certified dermatologists urge our patients to limit their sun exposure and as a lifestyle choice. The less exposure the better.

Other Causes of Skin Cancer & Harmful Tumors

Tanning beds and their associated UV lights used are also equally harmful, despite the fact many choose to use tanning beds during the seasonal winter months. In addition, exposure to x-rays as well as scars and other toxic chemicals can also influence and cause skin cancer to develop. Moles can become abnormal and also evolve into cancerous growths. We recommend routine skin examinations and mole screenings as well.

If you suspect you have skin cancer or any dangerous growths you are concerned about, be sure to make an appointment with a dermatologist at Skin and Cancer Institute for prompt medical attention and treatment.

Certified Skin Care with Dermatologists in Phoenix

Residents in Phoenix, Arizona can benefit from cosmetic, laser and surgical procedures offered by our board-certified dermatologists. From skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, rosacea to the treatment and removal of skin cancerous tumors, our doctors offer services tailored to each patient’s unique needs.

If you live in Phoenix, it is very likely that you have sun exposure that may be harmful, especially if your skin is not protected by gear or SPF. The summer months with high heat temperatures doesn’t help either. Currently, the month of September has seen high temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. This is very dangerous heat and sun exposure to residents of Phoenix. Many patients find themselves being at risk for skin cancer or precancerous skin lesions as well as other harmful growths that evolve if in the sun for lengthy periods of time.

Skin Cancer Variations

Basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, merkel cell carcinoma and sebaceous carcinoma are types of skin cancer treated by board-certified dermatologists. Each type of carcinoma spreads and affects the body differently. For example, merkel cell carcinoma can affect nerve endings and thereby infiltrate the lymph nodes, brain, bones, and lungs. Melanoma by contrast, is the result of a pigmentation mutation called melanin. The cells can mutate causing skin cancer.

Our dermatologists and skin cancer surgeons can help alleviate your concerns. Examination and detection are very important to your timely treatment.

What Changes To Watch Out For In Your Skin

Sun exposure can create and expand the development of cancerous cells. Since the sun’s UV light causes damage to the skin and eyes, there are warning signs to be on the lookout for. Click here to learn more about skin cancer, the removal methods, the types of cancer cells and more.

Sun exposure can cause benign tumors. If you notice freckles, yellow discoloration, pigmentation that is botchy or patchy, or dilated blood vessels under the skin, you may want to be seen by a board-certified dermatologist. Skin lesions can also develop in various forms prior to turning into full blown skin cancer. Such precancerous skin lesions include actinic keratosis which is typically found on the face, ears, scalp, arms and legs.

Surgical Dermatologists Remove Pre-cancerous Lesions & Skin Cancer

Our team of dermatologic surgeons, nurses, and team are experienced to diagnose, treat and surgically remove any tumors, pre-cancerous skin lesions, dangerous or malignant moles, as well as any other unwanted or potentially worrisome growths on the skin. Various types of skin cancer can evolve or develop on different regions of the body and skin. Prior to the development of skin cancer, often times a malignant pre-cancerous lesion may be present. This is why seeing a board-certified dermatologist and skin can surgeon regularly can be beneficial in prevention and early detection.

If you notice your skin is prone to new growths, some of which change in size or shape, are elevated or raised, you should consider consulting with a dermatologist at LA Laser Center. We offer various techniques and removal recommendations depending on the type of cancer or lesion present, size, location and nature of the tumor or malignancy. For instance, for skin cancers or tumors present on the face, nose, forehead or cheeks, we would probably select the Mohs micrographic surgery technique for removal. If the tumor is present somewhere on the body and the risk for scarring is minimal, a different removal method may be selected. Call us for your consultation today.