Basal Cell Carcinoma – Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing skin cancer and it rarely metastasizes beyond its original tumor site. However, this does not mean it can be left untreated. Top NYC board certified dermatologist and dermapathologist Dr. Gary Goldenberg has seen many cases of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Treatment is successful for patients who are diagnosed early and less successful for those who ignore their symptoms. Any suspicion of skin cancer must be taken seriously and properly examined by a board certified dermatologist.
Causes of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma arises due to cellular damage. A major cause of damage to basal cell DNA is excessive or chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), which is found in sunlight and tanning lamps and beds. In cases in which the cancer develops in areas of the skin not generally exposed to sunlight, other factors, such as a compromised immune system, may be contributing to the risk of basal cell carcinoma.
Signs and Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Because basal cell carcinoma is the result of chronic ultraviolet radiation exposure, symptoms usually appear in areas that receive the most sunlight, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulder and back. Some tell-tale signs that a spot on your skin might be a basal cell carcinoma include:
- Open sore. A sore that bleeds easily and does not heal may point to skin cancer. The sore may have oozing, as well as crusting spots.
- Reddish patch. A flat, scaly, reddish or brown patch can be a common symptom. Such patches often appear on the back or chest and can grow quite large.
- Shiny bump or nodule. These translucent, pearly bumps, usually found on the neck and head, can cause discomfort and may tend to bleed after a minor injury.
- Pink growth. A slightly dome-shaped raised bump, marked with irregular, visible blood vessels should be cause for concern. These growths often present on the face, ears, or neck.
- Eczema lesion or scars. Lesions that tend to bleed and may be itchy and scar-like sores that appear without any associated injury could indicate basal carcinoma. If the scar is white and waxy, it could be a sign of a rare, more damaging form of the cancer.
Treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma in NYC
The most common form of cancer in the United States, basal cell carcinoma is highly treatable. When detected and addressed early, most basal cell cancers can be cured. Although some basal cancers may recur, smaller ones are less likely to return. Some common treatment options include:
- Surgical excision. In this procedure, the cancerous tissue and a small amount of neighboring healthy tissue is carefully excised. This option is often used to treat large basal cell carcinoma.
- Electrodessication and curettage. In this procedure, the tissue is anesthetized and then the tumor cells are scraped out and an electric needle is used to treat the base of the lesion.
- Mohs surgery. In this procedure, the abnormal cancer cells are removed layer by layer, while minimizing the removal of surrounding normal skin tissue. This treatment option is useful on recurrent basal cell carcinomas and deep, fast-growing types that generally appear on the face.
- Oral medication. New oral medication that inhibit the growth of basal cells are currently available to treat this cancer. These medications are approved to treat advanced or metastatic disease. Although some less advanced tumors can also be treated.
Your Skin Cancer Exam and Treatment with Dr. Goldenberg in New York City
As part of a healthy screening program, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends an annual skin examination for everyone over the age of 18. To ensure early detection and treatment, it is important to monitor your skin for changes on a regular basis. If you notice an open sore or spot that changes in appearance, color, size and/or texture, schedule an appointment with Dr. Goldenberg in his Manhattan office.