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Basal Cell Carcinoma – Symptoms and Causes Essay

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Updated: Apr 4th, 2022

Introduction

Basal Cell Carcinoma, often abbreviated as (BCC), is the most frequently appearing form of skin cancer. Normally, BCC involves persistent growth or mutation of cells on the skin causing a cancerous condition. Generally, 80% of Basal Cell Carcinoma cases are mainly found in the head and neck or the body parts that are mainly exposed to the sun (Levy & Hanke, 2014). The nose also tends to be among the most vulnerable parts, and according to a recent study, “40% of BCC that was diagnosed on the head and neck were adjacent to the nose” (Levy & Hanke, 2014).

Manifestation of BCC

BCC can disfigure the host if it is allowed to grow but it does not metastasize beyond the original emergence spot of the tumor. Although cancers are known to be fatal, BBC is normally not as dangerous as other forms of cancer but can be very disruptive, especially when it affects the surrounding tissues. It is normally a localized disease although if left untreated for a long time may severely damage tissues in the affected area such that it would be difficult to treat effectively using available methods. Generally, the disease is known to affect over 2 million people in the US annually.

The photo below shows a scaly lesion, which is slightly raised at the tip of a nose. The photo presentation was taken from a 72-year old man who was healthy and fit and spent most of his time outdoor attending to his garden, having spent a whole lot of his time in life on a farm (Levy & Hanke, 2014). On close examination of the growing small pink sore, it was diagnosed to be Basal Cell Carcinoma.

The Nose: A High Risk Area for Cancer.
Figure1. The Nose: A High Risk Area for Cancer. Source: Skin Cancer Foundation. Web.

As mentioned above, BCC mainly affects body parts that are highly exposed to the sun such as the head parts and back. Other rare causes of BCC include exposure to direct heat especially fire, some complicated skin infections, and uncontrolled radiation; however, these cases form a very small percentage of the diagnosed cases in recent years.

Who Is At Risk of Contracting Basal Cell Carcinoma

The main concern at this point may be who is likely to contract the Basal Cell Carcinoma, which is increasingly becoming common skin cancer. Groups at high risk of contraction may be classified into age, physical attribution, sex, and occupation. Based on age, older people are the most affected; however, this type of skin cancer at least affects all age groups (Stockfleth, Rosen, & Schumaak, 2010). Although BBC is known to be more prevalent to older people, there are some cases of the disease affecting the youth in recent years; however, BCC affects children rarely but it becomes rampant in teenagers. Based on physical attribution, people who are at high risk of contracting BCC are those with “fair skin, red or blonde hair, and green, grey, or blue eyes” (Stockfleth, Rosen, & Schumaak, 2010). On the basis of sex, the disease is more common in men than in women; however, recent diagnostic reports indicate that women are beginning to be infected with BCC at a higher rate than before. On basis of occupation, BCC is likely to affect people who normally work outdoors, especially in the full glare of the sun for long hours (Stockfleth, Rosen, & Schumaak, 2010).

Basal Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis

Most of the time, BCC can at times resemble non-cancerous conditions such as eczema or psoriases, therefore, requiring a well-trained specialist to correctly diagnose it. Below are some of the warning signs and symptoms that require the immediate attention of a physician if observed on a person’s skin. Signs to watch out for include an open sore that may bleed or ooze water-like liquid, or remain open for a few weeks to even a month, heals, and then starts bleeding again (Levy & Hanke, 2014).

Another symptom is a reddish patch or irritated area that may mainly occur on the face, legs, arms, shoulders, and chest. At times, the patch may itch but in most cases, it persists with no discomfort (Stockfleth, Rosen, & Schumaak, 2010). Another sign is the appearance of a shiny bump or nodule that is often red, white, or pink. Moreover, BCC may be observed to appear in form of scars that are colored, making the skin around that area to be glossy and firm.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment

When BCC is diagnosed in its early stage, it is easily treated unlike when the tumor has extensively grown, which will need more advanced treatment. It should be noted that BCC is not contagious nor does it affect other parts of the body except in rare cases of surrounding tissues being infected. The confirmation of BCC in one’s skin by a physician is mainly diagnosed via a biopsy. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat BCC if diagnosed, one of them being undertaking a Mohs Micrographic Surgery (Alguire, 2009). In this surgery, a physician removes the tumor inclusive of a thin layer of tissue around it, and then the excision is checked thoroughly under a microscope until the area shows it is tumor-free. This type of surgery registers the highest cure rate of around 98% and is often used for tumors that have recurred, that are poorly demarcated, or those diagnosed in the critical parts such as the eyes, nose, lips, and ears (Marchac, 2011).

Another form of treatment is excisional surgery. In this type of surgery, the entire growth, along with a surrounding border of the normal skin, is removed as a safety margin (Marchac, 2011). Afterward, the surrounding skin after the surgery is closed using a number of stitches. The removed part is then to the laboratory for further test in order to establish whether the tumor is completely removed.

Radiation is one of the most common treatments of BCC; this procedure involves r-ray beams that are directed to the affected area for several weeks. This procedure does not involve surgery and it is mainly used on patients who are aged or have low immunity. The cure rates for radiation are at 90% but can lead to prolonged visits and radiation risks too (Stockfleth, Rosen, & Schumaak, 2010).

Photodynamic therapy is another form of treatment mainly used for patients with multiple BCCs. A photosensitizing agent is administered to the tumors through a daily application, and then the medicated areas are brought to activation using a strong light. The treatment damages the tumors causing little or no harm to surrounding areas but patients become photosensitive for around two days; thus, they must keep off from the sun during that period in order to realize a cure rate of about 70-90% (Stockfleth, Rosen, & Schumaak, 2010). Nevertheless, early detection is the most important remedy in order to offer the most effective form of treatment.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Prevention

Though the disease can be treated if detected early, it needs to be prevented from occurring as much as possible, since it may be diagnosed late and lead to fatal consequences. To prevent BCC, there are some guidelines to look out for. The prevention routines that must be adhered to, which mostly involve exposure to sun monitoring include but are not limited to staying in the shade especially when the sun is fully out, totally avoiding burning if possible, making it a habit to apply sunscreen on the body and avoiding tanning. It is also advisable to check oneself from head to toe every month in order to be sure about the health of the skin (Levy & Hanke, 2014).

Conclusion

Although BCC is not as fatal as other forms of cancer, it may sometimes be recurrent even after treatment such that one tends to develop the disease later following the healing of the previous condition. Therefore, continuous or regular diagnosis and examination are required to take appropriate action promptly. By doing this, great risks caused by BCC are prevented and in cases where recurrences may occur, the physician may opt for a different set of treatment other than the one administered previously. All in all, BCC is a printable disease, and when it occurs and is detected early, the disease if curable with more ease than it is normally the case with other forms of cancer.

References

Alguire, P. (2009). Internal Medicine Essentials for Clerkship Students. NY, USA: CP Press.

Levy, R., & Hanke, W. (2014). The nose: a high-risk area for cancer. Web.

Marchac, D. (2011). Surgery of Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Face. London, England: Springer London Limited.

Stockfleth, E., Rosen, T., & Schumaak, S. (2010). Managing Skin Cancer. London, England: Springer.

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