If you have recently been diagnosed with skin cancer, you may have been told that you have basal cell carcinoma but have no idea what that actually means. Knowing the symptoms and signs of basal carcinoma will help you to understand how it occurred and for others, it could lead to early diagnosis and treatment.
Non-melanoma skin cancer
There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma and basal cell carcinoma is the non-melanoma type. It is the most common form with an incidence of around 80% of all skin cancers in the UK. Other non-melanoma skin cancers are known as squamous cell carcinomas. The names come from the type of skin cells that are affected.
Non-melanoma skin cancers are generally one that occurs without a mole being present, while melanoma is often presented as a dark mole. Basal cell carcinoma is often more of an ulcer and is found in the deeper layers of skin. Many are nodular and develop under the skin where they cannot be seen.
Usually, this type of skin cancer is caused by exposure to sunlight or sunbeds and they will usually show in places that have been exposed. They may also show up where you already have scars or broken skin. You are most likely to get a basal cell carcinoma if you are fair, you have high exposure to sunlight or you have a history of these types of skin issues.
Basal cell carcinomas rarely spread to other parts of the body although you can have several on your body at one time and if you have already had one you are likely to develop another.
Read more on what basal cell carcinoma is >
The symptoms of basal cell carcinoma
- Spots or sores that do not heal over after 3-4 weeks or which come back once healed in the same spot.
- An ulcer on the skin that cannot be explained.
- A shiny pink or red lump that is slow-growing.
- Itchy red patches on the skin.
What happens now?
If a basal cell carcinoma is treated early enough it can be easily cured however if they are left the damage can continue through the skin layers and even into the bone. This can make treatment more difficult.
Getting to know what your skin looks like normally is the best way to notice any changes as they occur. You should see your doctor if you notice anything that fails to heal or where the skin is breaking down for no apparent reason.