Basal Cell Carcinoma

picture of rodent ulcer on the face

Basal cell carcinoma

A basal cell carcinoma is a common skin cancer, & sometimes called a ‘rodent ulcer’. It is often mistaken for eczema…..

What does a Basal Cell Carcinoma look like?

Basal cell carcinomas (also called ‘BCC’)commonly start as a small red bump on the skin, and can be mistaken as a simple spot or pimple. They grow over time though, and can form a large, dome-shaped growth with small blood vessels visible on their surface. Over time, they can break down and form an ulcer. Some basal cell carcinomas don’t look like this though, and instead can be just a crusted area that occasionally bleeds (eg when drying yourself with a towel), or even look like an area of scarring on the skin

What causes a Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinomas are mainly caused by excess sunlight. If you get a BCC though, it does not necessarily mean you have had a large amount of sun exposure as some people can form them without having ever spent much time in the sun. There are many other factors linked to rodent ulcers, including genetics, skin type (more common in pale skin) and having had previous basal cell carcinomas. Some medications, such as immunosuppressive medication, can also increase the risk of forming BCCs

Where do Basal Cell Carcinomas grow?

Basal cell carcinomas tend to grow on areas that have greater sun exposure, such as the face. Common areas for growth include the nose, ears and eyelids. They can also grow in other areas such as the back, chest and legs

Are Basal cell carcinomas harmful?

The risk of a basal cell carcinoma spreading to other areas such as the lungs, bones or lymph nodes is incredibly small. The BCCs tend to grow slowly, and can take many years to get to just a few centimetres in size. As they grow though, basal cell carcinomas will destroy the skin around them and their ‘roots’ can get deeper. For this reason, it is always best to get them treated sooner rather than later

Basal cell carcinoma treatment

There are a number of treatment options available for BCCs, including surgery, radiotherapy, cryotherapy (freeze spray) or topical treatments (such as creams). The type of treatment needed is usually best weighed up by a specialist in basal cell carcinoma treatment

Can Basal cell carcinomas be cured?

Any treatment for basal cell carcinomas carries a risk that the BCC can return, but the cure rates can be very high. When Mohs surgery is used for basal cell carcinomas, the cure rate can be over 99%. Even if the BCC is cured though, there is a chance of forming new ones in the future, so you need to be aware of any new suspicious growths

This information is for general information only. If you have any concerns about your skin health or are considering any treatments, including for basal cell carcinoma, you should seek advice from a healthcare skin specialist

Other Skincare articles

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An overview of some commonly known skin growths

What causes eczema, & possible treatments