What is it?
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of cancer. It predominantly affects white, fair skinned people. It’s particularly evident in caucasions who have had prolonged sun exposure so people who have lived in very sunny climates with high altitudes or near the equator would be in this group. Men are affected slightly more than women.
This cancer has abnormal uncontrolled growths or lesions which begin as small red pink or pearly lumps or nodules. Over time they look like open sores or ulcers, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or scars. BCC is very slow-growing and painless and thus frequently ignored by the patient. The lesions tend to appear on the face with 30% presenting on the nose. The lesions rarely metastasize (spread) beyond the tumour site. However, if left unnoticed and untreated the tumor will progress to invade local tissue, muscle and even bone.
Diagnosis is made by clinical examination, patient history and or a skin biopsy. Microscopic examination is a simple and effective method where minute bits of skin is gently scraped and examined under a microscope.
How is it treated?
Most common form of treatment is standard surgical incision where tumor cells are surgically removed. Other treatments include curettage (offending cells are scraped off using a particular tool called a curettage) and electrodissection.
When treated appropriately the prognosis for most patients with BCC is excellent. Control rates as high as 99% have been achieved by surgical excision.
The prevalence of skin disease exceeds that of obesity, hypertension, or cancer. Despite skin being the largest organ of the human body, dermatological research remains one of the most under funded areas of medicine. In a world where society has an increasing preoccupation with image and it’s importance to every aspect of a person’s life, sufferers of skin diseases are feeling and being more marginalised and isolated than ever.
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