Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of all skin cancers, and for most people, it is little more than a nuisance.
“They have found different spots, mostly on my arms and on my back, from being out in the sun when I was younger,” says Bob Davies.
Davies has had several close encounters with basal cell. But he’s always come away with a clean bill of health. Although it rarely metastasizes, the cancerous lesions can spread.
“Although they have a very small risk of metastasizing, which means moving to another part of the body, they can get invasive. And they can get deeper and bigger,” says Dr. Lowell Hart, oncologist and hematologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
The standard in care is to have a skin cancer treated by a dermatologist. Someone with an aggressive basal cell likely faces additional treatments; a more traditional protocol used to destroy cancerous tumors.
“Sometimes radiation therapy can be of help because they tend to be sensitive to radiation. So the main stage of treatment for the early ones is surgical removal and sometimes the radiation therapy,” says Dr. Hart.
Basal cell also tends to be more disfiguring and problematic if it’s left untreated for many years. Basal cell often appears as a waxy bump and is most common on the face, neck and arms.
“People are living longer and the longer you live, you’ve had more time for these mutations and cancers to develop,” says Dr. Hart.
The take away Davies learned is by dealing with skin abnormalities when they are a small inconvenience, they’re less likely to turn into a real pain.
“It hurts a little tiny bit, like getting a needle. But it’s very quick and very fast and it’s the safe thing to do,” says Davies.