According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the country, with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) accounting for majority of cases. Approximately 3.6 million people are diagnosed with BCC every year in the United States.
Basal cell carcinoma develops when the basal cells in your skin undergo genetic mutation, thereby proliferating uncontrollably. Basal cells are found in the innermost part of the epidermis—the top layer of your skin. The function of these cells is to divide and create new cells to replace the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) that slough off your skin’s surface. As new skin cells form, they move up in the epidermis, change shape, and replace the squamous cells that have died.
The following information aims to provide you with a better understanding of basal cell carcinoma.
Risk Factors for Basal Cell Carcinoma
There are various factors that can increase your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. These include the following:
- Fair skin – BCC is common among people who have very light skin and/or light-colored eyes.
- Family history- BCC can run in families.
- Immunosuppressants- These are medications or drugs that suppress your immune system to prevent it from recognizing a transplanted organ as a “foreign invader” and attacking it. Given how they work, immunosuppressants can impair your skin’s immune system and put you at an increased risk for BCC.
- Older age- Albeit BCC can occur in younger people, it tends to be more prevalent among older adults, as it often takes decades to develop.
- Overexposure to UV radiation (sunlight or tanning beds) – Chronic exposure to UV radiation from the sun or commercial tanning beds can put you at a greater risk for BCC.
- Personal history- Research shows BCC can recur within three to five years from when you got diagnosed with it.
Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Consult a dermatologist if you notice any or some of these changes in your skin, which are likely indicative of basal cell carcinoma:
- Shiny, translucent bump – It can appear pink or pearly white on fair skin.
- Lesions (black, blue, or brown) – They tend to have a translucent and slightly raised border.
- Scaly patch– It looks flat but with a raised edge. Over time, it can grow large.
- Reddish patch – It can appear on your chest, shoulder, arm, face, or any area exposed to UV light and can itch, hurt, or crust.
To confirm a diagnosis, your dermatologist will carry out the following assessments:
- General exam and assessment of your medical history- Your dermatologist will likely ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, overall health status, family history, and lifestyle.
- Physical exam- Your dermatologist will check the affected area of your skin as well as other parts of your body for lesions.
- Skin biopsy- Your doctor will obtain a tiny sample of a lesion and send it to the laboratory for analysis.
Based on their findings, your dermatologist may devise a skin cancer removal plan, which they will likely discuss with you during your next appointment.
Skin Cancer Expert in Coral Gables, Florida
Here at Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, Dr. Theodore John “TJ” Giuffrida, our board-certified dermatologist, is among the leading skin cancer experts not only in Florida but in the entire country. This means you can count on him to provide you with exceptional care and the best possible treatment outcome.
Schedule a consultation or a skin cancer screening appointment with Dr. Giuffrida today. Contact our staff at (305) 461-2000. Alternatively, you may fill out our convenient request form, and our scheduler will contact you as soon as possible to arrange your visit.