Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, often caused by long term exposure to UV rays from sunlight. About 8 in 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas. It is also the most frequently occurring form of all cancers.
Usually, basal cell carcinomas grow on the parts of the body that are often exposed to the sun, such as the face and neck. A basal cell carcinoma can take various forms, but generally it appears as a growth or sore on the skin that won’t heal.
Appearance: Most commonly a translucent bump with tiny blood vessels often visible through the surface. Can have dark spots, and/or a slightly raised, translucent border. If the cancer is on the back, it’s often a flat, scaly, reddish patch with a raised edge. The least common type is a morpheaform basal cell carcinoma, which appears as a white, waxy lesion without a clearly defined border
Size: Starts off as a lesion less 1-3mm in size, often grows to 2 cm, and can grow further if left untreated
Colour: Pearly white, skin coloured, or pink. Can be darker or lighter correlating with the person’s skin tone. Can also be brown, black or blue, and in cases of morpheaform basal cell carcinoma it is white and waxy.
Location: Usually sun-exposed parts of the body, such as the face and neck
Additional symptoms: May rupture, bleed, and/or scab over
Most basal cell carcinomas are thought to be caused by long term exposure to UV radiation found in sunlight and in commercial tanning lamps & tanning beds. This is why they usually grow in areas that are often exposed to the sun, such as the face and neck. In rare cases, they grow on and/or spread to other parts of the body.
The basal cell is one of the three main types of skin cells in the skin’s top layer (the epidermis). Basal cells shed as new ones form. When there is DNA damage from external forces such as UV rays or tanning beds, changes are triggered in the basal cells, leading to uncontrolled growth.
Other risk factors include:
At TMSC, we carefully excise the basal cell carcinoma lesion with appropriate margins and send it for pathology analysis.
Basal cell carcinomas grow slowly and are therefore curable most of the time. They don’t cause much damage as long as they are caught and treated early. Leaving it untreated can lead it to become disfiguring and dangerous; it can become locally invasive, growing wide and deep into the skin and causing the destruction of surrounding skin, bone, and tissue. The longer it is left untreated, the more likely it is to recur repeatedly.
Our surgeons are highly trained and experienced professionals who care deeply about their patients. Rest assured all of our procedures are carried out with the utmost care, precision, and in a safe environment.
Treatment of basal cell carcinoma is covered by OHIP.