Basal cell carcinoma
Authors Note: Last year I met two ladies a week apart who told me a story of their “nose cancer”. They thought they had a small pimple, it was a tiny little bump that was there and wouldn’t go away, they tried to pick it off and the little bump grew quickly which prompted them to seek medical attention immediately. They were completely surprised to discover it was cancer, although treatable, scary nonetheless. Now, 8 months later I hear of another case of basal cell carcinoma of the nose and am completely curious – something I have never heard of and suddenly 3 cases in less than a year.
What is it? What causes it? I had to know more.
What is it?
Basal cell carcinoma is a slow growing cancer which is nonmelanoma and makes up 75% of all skin cancers.
What causes it?
There are many factors which can attribute to basal cell carcinoma. It starts in the top layer of the skin (epidermis) and can spread to surrounding areas and lower skin layers and/or nerves and bone if left untreated.
Some risk factors:
- Fair Skin
- Blue or Green Eyes
- Red or Blonde hair
- Sunburn history, especially @ young age
- Lots of exposure to the sun or UV rays
- Exposure to Xrays and/or radiation
- Personal and/or family history of skin cancer
- Many moles & abnormal skin liaisons which can turn cancerous
- Weak Immune System
- Sensitive/Damaged Skin: burned, radiation, certain eczema & psoriasis creams can also damage skin and make it more susceptible to skin cancer
- Environmental exposures: herbicides and arsenic exposure
- Age: due to the slow growth of basal cell carcinoma, it is most often noticed around 40 – 50 years of age, but that number is begin to lower
What are the Symptoms?
- Pearly or waxy skin spot
- White or light pink spot of skin
- Brown or flesh colored spot of skin
- Skin sore that easily bleeds
- Sore(s) that do not heal
- Sore(s) that have oozing or crusting in them
- Appearance of scar although you never injured that spot
- Irregular blood vessels around area
- Any sore with a sunken middle
What are the Treatments?
- Surgery (including Mohs surgery)
- Cryosurgery (freezing of skin cells)
- Cream to treat superficial cells
- Radiation if cancer has spread to organs/lymph nodes
How to prevent it?
- Avoid the sun during peak times of day 10am – 4pm
- Wear Sunscreen & apply often
- Wear protective clothing
- Stay away from tanning beds & tanning accelerators
- Pay attention to any skin sensitizing creams or drugs – some medications will warn you to stay out of the sun during your treatment: head the warning
- Monitor your skin and note any changes – follow up with doctor if unsure. While no one wants to be diagnosed with any form of cancer, the sooner detected the better success rate of overcoming it.
Arsenic as a factor?
Did you know we are exposed to minute quantities of arsenic every day? Forming naturally in the environment and being placed there as well, we know arsenic is hazardous to our health in large quantities but very little consideration and protection is given to shielding us from the minute quantities that can be building up in our systems.
Monosodium Methanearsonate (MSMA ) is an arsenic-based pesticide and was used back in 2001 as a pesticide to kill of the pine beetle infestation in British Columbia. What was thought to be 80% effective in killing them off turned out to only be 60% effective and the other effect was the increased mortality rates of woodpeckers and other wildlife who were exposed to arsenic.
Arsenic is known to cause basal cell carcinoma and can be found in drinking waters, chicken, beef, fish, wine and near smelting plants. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the average American ingests 11 to 14 milligrams of arsenic every day.” [i]
Basal cell carcinoma on the rise?
With a stronger sun and more environmental toxins to contend with, it would be assumed this type of cancer (and others) would be on the rise – so is it?
“One in five people will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The disease is also on the rise, especially in young adults. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of cancer, has increased in people between 25-29.” [ii]
Learn the risk factors – protect your skin – observe any abnormalities and seek medical assistance immediately if you suspect basal cell carcinoma.
[i] Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/basal-cell-carcinoma/DS00925/DSECTION=causes
[ii] American Academy of Dermatology