Basal cell carcinoma
What is basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common malignant skin tumour in Central Europe. It is sometimes called white skin cancer or basalioma. It is a malignant skin tumour that develops in the basal cell layer of skin tissue. Within this layer of skin it is destructive, but in less than one percent of cases it hardly ever spreads to other skin layers or tissue parts.
How does basal cell carcinoma develop?
The most important aetiological factor is chronic exposure to ultraviolet light. For this reason, basal cell carcinomas mainly develop on the face, but can basically occur on the whole body. Another risk factor is a light skin type. Due to changes in leisure behaviour (holidays in the high mountains, at the sea or use of solariums), basal cell carcinomas also occur in increasingly younger patients.
What does basal cell carcinoma look like?
Basal cell carcinomas can take on different clinical forms. In the early stages, they appear as small, shiny nodules or redness, which can also resemble a scar. In the late stages they can grow proliferately, bleed and become encrusted. The diagnosis can usually be made clinically with a special magnifying glass (dermatoscope).
Is basal cell carcinoma curable?
If the basal cell carcinoma is treated early, it is curable. As with other skin tumours (e.g. squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma), the aim is complete surgical removal, possibly in several operations ("two-stage operation").
How is basal cell carcinoma treated?
Alternative forms of therapy depend on the subtype of basal cell carcinoma and other factors (including localisation, age and general condition of the patient): excochleation ("scraping"), cryotherapy ("freezing"), light therapy (photodynamic therapy - "PDT") or local therapy with an immunomodulator. However, recurrences are more frequent afterwards. In certain cases, especially if surgery is not possible for various reasons, radiotherapy is a good alternative therapy.
What follow-up care is required after surgery?
Basal cell carcinoma generally requires five years of follow-up care by a registered dermatologist, as the risk of developing another skin tumour is increased. A detailed clinical examination of the entire skin is performed. Apparatus-based examinations are not necessary.