Basal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the skin that affects the areas that are in direct sunlight. This type of cancer is less likely to spread from your skin to other parts of your body, but it can move nearby into bone or other tissue under your skin. The tumors on the skin start as small bumps, usually on your nose or other parts of your face. But you can get them on any part of your body, including your trunk, legs, and arms.
Too much exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, or even tanning beds, are the main cause of basal cell carcinoma. Over time, as the UV ray touches your skin it damages the DNA in the skin cells. The DNA holds the code for the way these cells grow. When it is damaged, the DNA can cause cancer to form. The process is gradual.
Basal cell carcinoma can cause a skin growth to form. It has the look of a dome shape that has blood vessels in it that is either pink, brown, or black. Basal cell carcinoma will first show up as small "pearly" bumps that look like a flesh-colored mole or a pimple that doesn’t go away. Other symptoms can be a waxy, hard skin growth. It can be diagnosed by having a dermatologist check for suspicious spots on the skin. They may also ask questions like:
"Did you spend a lot of time in the sun while you were growing up?"
"Have you had blistering sunburns?"
"Do you use sunscreen?"
"Have you ever used tanning beds?"
"Have you had unusual bleeding spots on your skin that don't heal?"
Your doctor will take a sample, or biopsy, of the growth. He will numb the area and remove some of the skin. Then he sends it to a lab, where it will be tested for cancer cells.