Basal Cell Carcinoma staging is used in order to identify the severity of the condition. In addition to this, Basal Cell Carcinoma staging can be used to predict the patient's response to treatment and overall prognosis.
Whilst staging is common in other forms of cancer, some medical professionals believe the Basal Cell Carcinoma staging is not strictly required. As this type of cancer tends to grow fairly slowly, Basal Cell Carcinoma staging does not need to be applied to every patient.
However, many patients expect to hear what stage the disease is at and it may be helpful to explain to them the process of Basal Cell Carcinoma staging.
A Basal Cell Carcinoma staging system can be used, providing the appropriate diagnostic tests are carried out. In the case of Basal Cell Carcinoma, patients may undergo a series of tests, such as a skin biopsy, a tangential biopsy or a punch biopsy. Once the results have been assessed, they can be used, in conjunction with the patient's medical history, to determine the severity of the cancer.
Although Basal Cell Carcinoma isn't the only type of skin cancer, it is the most common form of the condition. It's estimated that 1 in 4 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime and most patients will experience Basal Cell Carcinoma, as opposed to other types of skin cancers.
Whilst skin cancer appears to be more prevalent in recent years, it is believed that the increasing rates of Basal Cell Carcinomas are due to better detection.
Although increased exposure to the sun and the average lifespan increasing may have some effect on increasing rates of skin cancer, early detection methods and awareness of the condition may have led to an apparent rise in the number of people diagnosed with the condition.
When Basal Cell Carcinoma occurs, patients may find a small lump on their skin or a scab that won't fully heal. Although they may not look serious, if they aren't treated, an ulcer may form at the site. Normally, Basal Cell Carcinoma is painless but patients may sometimes find that the site of the cancer is itchy or that it bleeds slightly.
If stage 0 Basal Cell Carcinoma is present, most patients will have a very good prognosis. In such cases, the present is only present on the outer layer of the skin and it has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or metastasized to other parts of the body.
Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma at this stage can be easy to carry out and most patients will be expected to make a full recovery.
If a Basal Cell Carcinoma reaches stage 1, it means that the tumor is less than 2cms wide but that the patient presents with one high risk factor, such as, abnormal cells on the tumor, a thickness of over 2mm or growth into the lower layers of skin.
Despite this, Stage 1 Basal Cell Carcinomas still show no signs of spreading to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Although stage 2 Basal Cell Carcinomas still do not spread to the rest of the body or the lymph nodes, the tumor itself may exceed 2cm in width. Alternatively, a tumor of any size can be classed as stage 2 if that patient has two or more high risk factors.
If the tumor is present on the face and has grown into the facial bones, it may be classed as a stage 3 Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Alternatively, if the tumor meets the standard for earlier staging but has spread into one lymph node, on the same side of the body as the tumor, it will result in stage 3 Basal Cell Carcinoma being diagnosed.
Stage 4 Basal Cell Carcinoma can be diagnosed in a number of ways. Any tumor that has spread to any lymph node which is larger than 6cm will be treated as stage 4 Basal Cell Carcinoma, for example.
Alternatively, if the tumor has grown into the skull or has metastasized to other areas of the body, stage 4 Basal Cell Carcinoma will be diagnosed.
In the vast majority of cases, Basel Cell Carcinoma can be treated quickly and effectively. If the disease is diagnosed early, the affected area can merely be excised, or removed. Providing the tumor has not spread, patients are unlikely to require any further treatment.
Despite the prevalence of Basal Cell Carcinoma, it is a highly treatable condition. If patients seek medical help early enough, the risk of potential complications can be reduced and a full recovery can be made.