Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma:

This is a slow growing destructive skin tumor.  The exact  cause is unknown, but  precipitating factors include prolonged sun exposure, arsenic ingestion, radiation exposure, burns, and very rare,- vaccinations.  It is more common with those with blond, fair skinned, white males.  There is three types of basal cell carcinoma:
1.) noduloulcerative, 2.) superficial, and 3.) sclerosing basal cell epitheliomas.

Symptoms:

* Noduloulcerative basal cell epitheliomas - occur most often on the face, particularly on the forehead, eyelid margins, and nasolabial folds.

Early stage - lesions are usually small, smooth, pinkish translucent papules with telangiectatic (a vascular lesion formed by dilation of a group of small blood vessels) vessels on the surface and occasional pigmentation.

Late stage - lesions are enlarged, with depressed centers, firm and elevated borders.

They eventually become ulcerated becoming locally invasive.  Ulcerated tumors rarely metastasize.

These occur if late stage lesions are not treated. If left untreated, they can spread to vital areas and become infected, and invade bone, or cause massive hemorrhage if they invade large blood vessels.

* Superficial basal cell epitheliomas - occur most often on the chest and back and appear as oval or irregularly shaped, light pigmented plaques with sharply defined, slightly elevated thread - like borders. They may be scaly with small atrophic areas in the center that resemble psoriasis or eczema. Such lesions are usually chronic and noninvasive.

* Sclerosing basal cell epitheliomas - occur on the head and neck. They appear as waxy, sclerotic, yellow to white plaques without distinct borders and often resemble small patches of scleroderma.

Diagnostic test: physical examination, biopsy and family history.

Treatment:

Treatment varies depending on size, location and depth of the lesion. Treatment may include curettage and electrodesiccation for small lesion. Chemotherapy with topical 5 - fluorouracil Surgical excision, irradiation, or Moh's microsurgery

* Regular follow up with your doctor is important

Call your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.

Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatments seek to destroy malignant cells while sparing normal ones, to reduce pain, and to induce cure or remission. A single primary treatment or a combination of treatments may be used. These treatments can provide local and systemic therapy and offer doctors the advantage of attacking cancer cells with several mechanisms. They include:

* Chemotherapy - which interrupts malignant cells life cycles, inhibiting or destroying their ability to divide

* Radiation - which also inhibits cell division by impairing DNA synthesis and causing cell membrane lysis. Radiation can be used as a primary treatment or as an adjunctive procedure intended to kill cancer cells that may have survived other treatments.

* Biotherapy ( immunotherapy ), which employs biological response modifiers that act on malignant cells by inhibiting division and by enhancing the body's immune responses to such cells.

* Bone marrow transplantation, which is used to replace or replenish the bone marrow of patients with leukemia or multiple myeloma

* Surgery, which removes tumors or reduces their size. Surgery enables other treatments because there are fewer malignant cells to combat.

* Several new cancer treatments are emerging. Surgical treatments using lasers and intraoperative radiation can effectively remove tumors or reduce their size at the time of initial surgery and staging. Hyperthermia - the use of heat to destroy cancer cells is being investigated as a single modality and in combination with radiation and chemotherapy.

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