Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer diagnosed in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer are squamous cell and basal cell cancer. Basal cell cancer is the most common form of skin cancer and accounts for around 90% of skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S. Unlike squamous cell cancer, basal cell cancer is a slow-growing cancer that rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Basal cell cancer forms in the basal cells, located at the bottom of the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. Basal cell cancer is most likely to form in men and is more common as age increases, but the average age of onset has decreased, and it has started to become more widespread among women.
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing basal cell cancer. These risk factors can include:
* Excessive exposure to the sun and other sources of ultraviolet radiation.
* Skin complexion. Those with a fair complexion have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. Also, those with freckles and moles are more likely to develop skin cancer.
* Family history. Those with a family history of skin cancer, run a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
* Prolonged exposure to radiation or arsenic.
* Sever sunburns.
* Geography. The closer you are to the sun, the higher your exposure level to ultraviolet radiation.
Although the above can increase your chances of developing basal cell cancer, they do not guarantee that you will develop skin cancer. However, if you do have any of these risk factors, it is important to keep track of any changes that may occur to your skin.
Basal cell cancer can develop anywhere on the body, but is most often found on areas of the body that are exposed to environmental elements such as the hands, face, neck and other areas of the body that receive a great deal of sun exposure.
Basal cell cancer often has characteristics that can be easily recognized. And although these characteristics may be the result of other less serious skin conditions such as psoriasis, if you notice any of these characteristics, you need to make an appointment to visit a medical professional to make sure.
Possible basal cell cancer characteristics to look for include:
* An open sore that remains open for a long period of time. This open sore may bleed, ooze or crust.
* A reddish area of skin that may itch or hurt.
* A bump or nodule that has a pearly shine to it. This bump will often be pink, red, or white in color. It may also be a tan, black, or brown color.
* A pink crater type growth. This growth may have a slightly elevated border that continues to grow.
* An area of skin that resembles a scar. This patch of skin will often be a waxy white or yellow in color and have poorly defined borders.
If you notice the development of any patches of skin that exhibit these characteristics, it is important that you make an appointment to see a medical professional.
There are a variety of treatment options that are often used to treat basal cell cancer. The treatment method used will depend on a number of factors including the extent of the disease and the overall general health of the person receiving the treatment. Possible treatments include:
* Surgery - Surgery is one of the oldest forms of treatment used to treat basal call cancer, and still one of the most commonly used. Surgery is often used as a method to remove the cancer and prevent it from metastasizing.
* Radiation Therapy - Radiation therapy is a treatment method that uses high-energy rays to shrink or kill cancerous cells.
* Photodynamic Therapy - Photodynamic therapy is a new treatment that allows doctors to treat basal cell cancer without harming the surrounding tissue.
* Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy treats basal cell cancer with drugs that can destroy skin cancer cells by impeding their growth and reproduction.