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Facts about basal cell carcinoma

  1. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common malignancy in white people, and its incidence is increasing worldwide
  2. Risk factors include very pale skin type (Fitzpatrick 1), red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, freckling in childhood, sunburn in childhood, family history of skin cancer, immunosuppressive treatment, and ingestion of arsenic.
  3. Basal cell carcinoma probably occurs following an interaction between genes and the environment, especially ultraviolet irradiation - sunlight.
  4. It is more common in older persons but increasingly seen in younger adults who have had a lot of sun exposure or who have other risk factors.
  5. Patients with basal cell carcinoma have an increased risk of developing further basal cell carcinoma and should be vigilant, seeking advice if a new tumour or nodule is seen on the face
  6. Patients with basal cell carcinoma have an increased risk of developing other skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, which are also ultraviolet or sunlight related tumours
  7. Patients on immunosuppressive treatment also have an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma. A study in the Netherlands showed that the incidence of basal cell carcinoma in transplant recipients was 10 times higher than in the general population.
  8. Treatment of basal cell carcinoma includes different forms of surgery, radiotherapy, photodynamic therapy and topical fluorouracil. On the face particularly around the eyelids, surgery is most commonly used as this ensures complete removal of the tumour, especially is Mohs' micrographic surgery is done.