Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It is a slow-growing cancer that arises from the basal cells, which are cells in the lower part of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin).
The etiology of BCC is complex and multi-factorial, with the most important risk factors being exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds, a history of severe or prolonged sunburns, and having fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue or green eyes. Other risk factors include a weakened immune system, chronic arsenic exposure, radiation therapy, and certain genetic conditions.
BCC is typically diagnosed by a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the skin, hair, and nails. In St. Louis, our expert BJC dermatologists will examine the suspicious area of skin and may also perform a biopsy, in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the lesion and examined under a microscope.
Treatment for BCC depends on the size, location, and depth of the tumor, as well as the patient's overall health and preferences. Options include surgical excision, cryotherapy (freezing the tumor with liquid nitrogen), electrodesiccation and curettage (scraping and burning the tumor with an electric needle), and topical medications (applied to the skin). In some cases, radiation therapy or photodynamic therapy (PDT) may also be used.
It's important to see an expert dermatologist for the diagnosis and treatment of BCC, as early detection and treatment can significantly improve the chances of a successful outcome.