Did you know that basal cell carcinoma is responsible for more than 75% of skin cancer cases, making it the most prevalent skin cancer type? It is a slow-growing cancer that typically starts in the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. Basal cell carcinoma is usually not life-threatening, but it can be disfiguring if it is not treated early.
The Importance of Early Detection
Early detection is the key to successful treatment of basal cell carcinoma. If it is caught early, it can usually be removed with a simple procedure, such as a shave biopsy or a punch biopsy. However, if basal cell carcinoma is not caught early, it can grow larger and spread to other body parts. In rare cases, it can become life-threatening.
Here are some reasons why early detection is so important for basal cell carcinoma:
Smaller Tumors are Easier to Treat
The smaller the tumor, the easier it is to remove completely. This means there is less risk of the cancer coming back.
Treatment is Less Likely to be Disfiguring
If basal cell carcinoma is caught early, you can get a simple procedure to remove it. It will leave little or no scarring. However, if it is not caught early, it may require more extensive surgery, which can be more disfiguring.
The Risk of Metastasis is Lower
Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells to other body parts. The risk of metastasis is lower for basal cell carcinoma that is caught early.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common sign of basal cell carcinoma is a small, pink, or flesh-colored bump on the skin.
It can also appear as:
- A scaly patch
- A red or brown spot
- A crater-like wound that does not heal
Basal cell carcinoma is often found on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, and neck.
How to Detect Basal Cell Carcinoma
The best way to detect basal cell carcinoma is to perform regular self-exams of your skin. Look for any new or changing moles, bumps, or freckles. If you see anything that looks suspicious, see a doctor right away.
Here are some tips for detecting basal cell carcinoma:
- Know your skin – Look for any new or changing moles, bumps, or freckles.
- Check your skin in a well-lit room – Use a mirror to check hard-to-see areas, such as your back.
- Look for the ABCDEs of skin cancer – Asymmetry, border (if it is uneven), color (if it has more than one color in it), diameter (if it is larger than a pencil’s eraser), and evolving (if it has changed in color, size, or shape over time).
See a doctor right away if you see anything suspicious.
Treatment for Basal Cell Carcinoma
The treatment for basal cell carcinoma depends on the size and location of the tumor. Small tumors can typically be removed using a simple procedure, such as a shave biopsy or a punch biopsy. Larger basal cell carcinomas may necessitate more extensive surgery, like Mohs surgery.
Mohs surgery involves the removal of the tumor layer by layer. Each layer of tissue is examined under a microscope to ensure that all of the cancer cells have been removed.
In addition to surgery, there are other treatment options, including:
- Cryotherapy – where the tumor is frozen with liquid nitrogen.
- Radiation therapy – involves high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.
- Photodynamic therapy – uses a light-sensitive drug to kill cancer cells.
When to Visit a Mohs Surgeon for a Basal Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis
If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, it is important to see your doctor right away:
- A new or changing mole or skin growth
- A scaly patch on the skin
- A red or brown spot on the skin
- A crater-like wound that does not heal
- Itching or bleeding on the skin
- Any skin growth that is growing larger or changing in appearance
You should also consider visiting a doctor if you are over the age of 50, as the risk of basal cell carcinoma increases with age. If you have a family history of skin cancer, you are more likely to develop it. You should also see your doctor if you have fair skin and have been exposed to a lot of sun.
If you are unsure whether or not you should see your doctor for basal cell carcinoma, it is always better to err on the side of caution and get it checked out.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis and Treatment in Miami, FL
Basal cell carcinoma is a common cancer, but it is usually not life-threatening if it is caught early. By performing regular self-exams of your skin and seeing a doctor right away when you see anything suspicious, you can help ensure that basal cell carcinoma is detected early and treated effectively.
Do you need a basal cell carcinoma diagnosis? You can rely on Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center in Coral Gables. Dr. T.J. Giuffrida, our board-certified Mohs surgeon, will give you nothing short of the best care. You may reach our friendly staff at (305) 461-2000 for any questions. You can also book an appointment using our secure online request form.
We look forward to serving you!