Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of all cases. It predominantly affects individuals with fair skin, and its incidence is increasing worldwide. Understanding the key features, diagnosis, and management of BCC is crucial for medical professionals. This guide aims to provide an overview of BCC for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
BCC arises from the basal cells of the epidermis, which are responsible for regeneration and repair of the skin. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the primary risk factor for BCC development. Chronic sun exposure, tanning beds, and genetic predisposition contribute to the pathogenesis. BCC commonly occurs on sun-exposed areas such as the face, scalp, ears, neck, and upper trunk.
BCC typically presents as a slowly growing, painless, and non-healing skin lesion. The classic appearance is a pearly, translucent papule or nodule with telangiectasias (dilated blood vessels). Other presentations include:
Diagnosis of BCC is based on clinical presentation and confirmed by biopsy. Dermoscopy, a non-invasive technique using a handheld device, aids in distinguishing BCC from other skin lesions. Histopathological examination reveals characteristic features, including:
The primary goal of BCC management is complete tumor removal while preserving normal tissue. Treatment options depend on the tumor size, location, histology, and patient factors. Common approaches include:
BCC has a generally favorable prognosis, with a low metastatic potential. However, if left untreated, local invasion can lead to extensive tissue destruction. Recurrence rates vary based on the treatment modality used and tumor characteristics. Regular follow-up and sun protection measures are essential for early detection and prevention of further skin cancers.
Basal Cell Carcinoma is a prevalent skin cancer with important clinical implications. Understanding its pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and management is crucial for physicians. This USMLE guide provides a comprehensive overview of BCC, enabling medical professionals to approach this condition confidently in their practice.