A Comprehensive Guide to Basal Cell Carcinoma: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

A Comprehensive Guide to Basal Cell Carcinoma: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. It is a slow-growing, malignant tumor that develops in the outer layer of the skin. The majority of BCCs are found on areas of the body exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, arms, and hands.

If left untreated, BCC can grow and spread to other areas of the body, causing disfigurement and destruction of tissue. In some cases, it can even spread to other organs, leading to more serious health problems.

Causes of Basal Cell Carcinoma

The exact cause of BCC is unknown, but some factors are known to increase the risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Fair skin:  People with fair skin, light hair, and blue eyes are more likely to develop BCC than those with darker skin tones.
  • Age:  BCC is more common in older adults, although it can occur in younger people. Genetics: Some people may be more likely to develop BCC due to certain genetic predispositions.
  • Immune system suppression:  People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those who are taking immunosuppressive medications, are at an increased risk of developing BCC.
  • Chronic skin conditions:  People with chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or severe acne may be more likely to develop BCC. Exposure to certain chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic, may increase the risk of developing BCC.
  • Previous radiation therapy:  People who have had radiation therapy in the past may be more likely to develop BCC.

Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma

1. Skin Lesions: Most common symptom of basal cell carcinoma is a pale, waxy, pearly, or flesh-colored bump on the skin.

2. Change in Skin Color: An area of skin may also become darker or redder than the surrounding skin.

3. Open Sore: In some cases, a sore can form that does not heal.

4. Bleeding: The area may also bleed or ooze.

5. Scaling and Crusting: The lesion may have a scaly, crusted surface.

6. Scar-Like Appearance: In advanced stages, the lesion may appear as a flat, flesh-colored scar-like patch.


The diagnosis of BCC is based on a physical exam. A doctor will examine the area and look for signs of a tumor. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, a biopsy may be necessary. During a biopsy, a sample of tissue is taken and examined under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous.

In some cases, imaging tests such as an X-ray or CT scan may be used to confirm a diagnosis of BCC. These tests can help determine the extent of the tumor and whether it has spread to other areas of the body.

Once BCC is diagnosed, treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, topical medications, or a combination of these. Surgery is the most common treatment for BCC and involves removing the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue. Radiation therapy can be used to shrink the tumor or to prevent it from coming back. Topical medications, such as creams or gels, can be used to kill the cancer cells.

No matter what treatment is chosen, it is important to have regular follow-up visits with a doctor to ensure that the cancer has not returned or spread. It is also important to protect yourself from UV radiation to reduce the risk of developing BCC in the future.

Treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma

The main treatments for BCC include:


During surgery, the cancerous tissue is removed and the edges of the wound are closed. Depending on the size and location of the cancer, a plastic surgeon may reconstruct the area to give a more natural look.


During cryosurgery, the cancerous tissue is frozen with liquid nitrogen. It is an effective treatment for small BCCs.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. It is usually used for BCCs that are too large for surgery or cryosurgery.

Topical medications

Topical medications, such as imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil, can be used to treat BCCs located on the face or scalp.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

PDT uses a topical medication that makes cancer cells sensitive to light. When exposed to a special type of light, the cancer cells are destroyed.

The best treatment for BCC depends on the size, location, and type of cancer. Your doctor can help you decide which treatment is right for you.



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