Basal-Cell Skin Cancer (Basalioma)
Basalioma on the skin of the face - diameter 1 cm. (Source: Shutterstock)
Basal Cell Carcinoma is a common skin tumour. This is probably formed from atypical, immature pluripotent cells (capable of differentiating into one of many cell types) in the epidermis, which grow faster under increased sunlight.
The basal cell carcinoma occurs mainly in the face, and especially in the upper third of the face. It evolves without signs in healthy-looking skin. Often, a small, upper hardening or a nodule develops first. Typical signs are very fine red veins, and individual vascular dilation, which are often damaged by scratching or shaving. Blood crusts, or lesions, recurring in the same place that ‘do not heal’, are the first symptoms of a basalioma.
In later stages the nodules take on a rough consistency, or sinking at the centre, and the edge looks like a string of beads. Often, a glassy spherical tumour is formed over a period of months or even years. Another form appears more like a scar. The true size of the tumour can extend beyond these visible skin changes. If left untreated, the basalioma destroys the adjacent bone and soft tissue, and grows locally inwards, destroying underlying tissue. There is however no metastases. Therefore it is also called a semi malignant tumour.
With 50 to 100 diseases per 100,000 inhabitants per year, the basal cell carcinoma is the most common epithelial skin cancer. Patients from the age of 50, usually between 60 to 80 years of age, are affected. Basal cell carcinomas grow very slowly and can be diagnosed only by a biopsy (removal of a tissue sample).
Treatment depends on the size and location of the tumour. Surgery is the first choice, and is carried out as part of the healing process. In the early stages, it is usually outpatient surgery under local anaesthesia. In an advanced stage, the tumour is usually operated on twice. Sometimes radiation therapy will be carried out. The prognosis is good for the full removal of the tumour.