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Basal Cell Skin Cancer - Signs, Causes, Treatments and Prevention

Jul 23, 2008
Basal Cell (often misspelled as Basil) is arguably the most common form of skin cancer in the world. Basal Cell Cancer starts in the lowest layer of the Epidermis (skin), which is called the Basal cell layer. Around eighty percent of diagnosed skin cancers are Basal Cell Carcinomas. This figure used to be higher (at 90%), but cases of Melanoma are unfortunately climbing.

Basal cell carcinoma is a slow growing cancer and rarely spreads to other parts of the body through the blood stream. Basal Cell Carcinoma is usually never fatal, however it can become severely disfiguring if left untreated.

Causes of Basal Cell Skin Cancer
Basal cell skin cancer is caused by repeated exposures to ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). Sources of this type of radiation come from Sun and tanning beds (no big shock there). Intense exposures of UV rays, such as sunburns can drastically increase the occurrence of Basal cell cancer.

Signs Of Basal Cell Skin Cancer
Basal cell cancer can be hard to spot early on because it almost looks like regular skin features. Basal Cell skin cancer almost always forms on the face, neck, arms and legs (basically any parts of the body that are exposed to the sun).

Below are some things to look for:
-Deep red area on the skin that doesn't heal.
-Bumps that look like blisters that never burst.
-Lesions (holes in the skin) that never heal on their own.

If you experience any of the above go make an appointment with a dermatologist ASAP.

Treatment Of Basal Cell Skin Cancer
Treatment varies depending on the size, depth, and location of the basal cell cancer. Treatments options can include surgery, MOHS surgery, radiation, cryosurgery (freezing cancer cells), topical chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy. Treating Basal cell with MOHS is by far the best way to prevent the Basal cell cancer from coming back (about a one percent chance of returning) while other forms of basal cell treatment are less effective (about a ten percent return rate). MOHS is a surgical procedure that involves removing tumor tissue layer by layer. Each of the layers of removed tissue are then scanned for cancer cells under a microscope.

Preventing Basal Cell Cancer
The best way to prevent Basal cell skin cancer is to protect exposed areas of your skin to UV rays. Always try to use a sun block with an SPF of at least 30 (and that doesn't contain Oxybenzone if possible). Covering up is the single best way to prevent sun damage. Also, keep in mind that when clothes become wet they lose about half their protection from harmful UV rays.

Remember, only one bad sunburn drastically increases your chances for either Basal cell skin cancer or Melanoma skin cancer.
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