What is a basal cell carcinoma?
A basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a common type of skin cancer that develops in the head and neck area. It tends to grow gradually. These cancers occur more commonly in fair-skinned people with excessive sun exposure. BCC at an early stage can appear subtle, just like a scaly patch that does not go away or a skin-coloured bump. As it advances, it becomes more prominent and may even bleed or crust and grow into a larger lump.
What causes basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma occurs when one of the cells in the skin’s basal cell layer suffers a mutation in its DNA. Mutated DNA prompts the basal cell to multiply fast and continue its growth when it is supposed to die normally. This results in accumulating abnormal, cancerous cells that eventually develop into a tumour.
Damage to basal cell DNA results from ultraviolet radiation exposure from sunlight or solariums. BCC is most common in people above 40 years of age. But it may also occur in younger people who have had extensive exposure to the sun.
How is BCC treated?
Treatment of BCC is based on the type, size, location and depth of the tumour as well as the patient’s age and general health. The options for treatment are as follows: