Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCCs) are the most common type of skin cancer and the most common type of cancer in humans. They usually develop on sun exposed areas of the body especially the head, ears, neck and face.
BCCs arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). BCCs are slow growing and very rarely spread to other parts of the body. They can invade tissue and bone in nearby areas of skin and become highly disfiguring and damage nerves.
If the BCC is large and a skin graft is needed after surgical removal the result can be disfiguring, so early detection and treatment is best.
Symptoms of a basal cell skin cancer
- A sore that won’t heal
- A sore that repeatedly bleeds and scabs over
- A pearly white or waxy bump, often with visible blood vessels. It may develop a crust.
- A flat, scaly, pink or brown coloured patch. Over time, these patches can grow quite large.
- More rarely, a white waxy scar.
BCCs can be treated with ointment, radiation therapy, with surgery (usually under a local anaesthetic), cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off), curettage (scraping) or cautery (burning).