Basal Cell Carcinoma: Symptoms and Causes

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in the basal cells-a kind of cell found in the skin responsible for producing new skin cells as the old skin cells die off. Basal cell carcinoma often presents as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, but it can also assume other forms. It mainly occurs on skin parts exposed to the sun, such as the neck and head. Research studies indicate that most cases of basal cell carcinoma could originate from long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Staying away from the sun and using sunscreen can potentially protect you from basal cell carcinoma. You should visit a Chevy Chase basal cell carcinoma specialist if you think you have basal cell carcinoma.

Symptoms

Basal cell carcinoma mainly develops in parts of your body exposed to sunlight, primarily your head and neck. It can also develop on body parts protected from sunlight, such as your genitals, in rare instances. It can present itself in a change in the skin, such as a sore or growth that does not heal. The lesions have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • A shiny, skin-colored bump that appears translucent so you can see through the surface a bit. It may appear pink or pearly white on white skin. If you have brown or black skin, the bump will appear glossy black or brown. You can also see some tiny blood vessels if you have white skin.
  • A black, brown, or blue lesion, or a lesion with dark spots and a slightly raised translucent border.
  • A white, waxy, scar-like lesion with no distinct border.

You should book an appointment with a basal cell carcinoma specialist if you notice any changes in the appearance of your skin. The changes can range from new growth to changes in a previous growth or a recurring sore.

Causes

Basal cell carcinoma results from one of the basal cells in your skin developing a DNA mutation. The basal cells are located at the bottom of the epidermis, and they produce new skin cells. Older skin cells move towards the skin’s surface, where they die and shed off during the production of new skin cells. The DNA in a basal cell controls the process of creating new skin cells. The DNA mutation causes the skin cells to multiply faster than usual and keep growing instead of dying. Over time, the accumulating mutated basal cells from a cancerous tumor appear in the form of a lesion on your skin.

Medical practitioners assume that most DNA mutations come due to ultraviolet radiation from commercial tanning lamps, tanning beds, and sunlight. However, exposure to sunlight does not relate to skin cancers that develop on parts not exposed to sunlight. You can also develop basal cell carcinoma due to other factors, but the specific primary cause remains unknown.

In summary, basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that affects the basal cells. It mainly affects body parts exposed to sunlight, such as the head and neck. It presents itself in the form of changes in the skin or growth that do not go away. It mainly comes about due to DNA mutations affecting your basal cells.