White skin cancer (basalioma): Forms, symptoms, treatment
White skin cancer (light skin cancer) is the most common form of skin cancer. These include the basal cell carcinoma (basal cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma) and the spinalioma (squamous cell carcinoma, prickle cell carcinoma). Both forms of cancer grow relatively slowly and rarely form metastases. Nevertheless, white skin cancer must be taken seriously and treated as early as possible. Read all the important information on the topic!
White skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma
White skin cancer accounts for the majority of all skin cancers: In most cases this is basal cell cancer (basal cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma).
This type of skin tumour develops from cells of the so-called basal cell layer of the skin and the root sheaths of the hair follicles. It can occur all over the body. However, 70 to 80 percent of all basal cell carcinomas occur in the head and neck area. Especially often affected are the “sun terraces” such as the nose, lips or forehead. Basaliomas also frequently form on the neck and hands, less frequently on the legs.
Women and men suffer equally frequently from basal cell cancer. Most patients are between 50 and 60 years old. For some time now, however, basal cell carcinoma has also increasingly been occurring at a younger age.
Basal cell cancer is very diverse. It usually develops in the form of initially waxy, nodular tumours. They often form a pearl-like border and can bleed from time to time. This widespread form of white skin cancer is called nodular basal cell carcinoma. But there are other manifestations. Some basaliomas look more like scar tissue or have dark pigmentation.
In most patients, basaliomas are found on the face between the hairline and the upper lip. However, other parts of the body can also be affected, for example the auricle, the hairy scalp or – less frequently – the trunk and extremities.
You can read more about the appearance and location of basaliomas under Skin cancer: Symptoms.
Basal cell cancer is usually operated on. The surgeon attempts to remove the tumour completely, together with a seam of healthy tissue.
In some cases surgery is not possible, for example because the tumour is too large. Then other forms of therapy are used alternatively, for example radiotherapy. The so-called cryosurgery (cryosurgery) is also possible. The tumour is frozen with liquid nitrogen.
A further therapy option for this type of white skin cancer is photodynamic therapy: this involves “exposing” the tumour to intense light after the cancerous tissue has been made more light-sensitive with a special ointment.
You can read more about these and other therapies for basal cell cancer under Skin Cancer: Treatment.
Basalioma: chances of recovery
Basal cell carcinoma very rarely forms metastases. Physicians therefore also call this type of white skin cancer “semi-malignant”. If diagnosed in time, the basalioma is curable in the vast majority of cases. Surgery is the most promising form of treatment. Deaths from basal cell cancer are very rare (about one in 1,000 patients).
After completion of treatment, patients should go for regular check-ups (aftercare). More than four out of ten people affected develop further basaliomas within the first three years after the initial diagnosis. The physician determines the intervals at which a patient should come for a check-up individually. As far as the duration of aftercare is concerned, experts currently recommend that it should not be limited in time.
If you want to prevent this type of white skin cancer, you should first and foremost protect your skin from too much UV light. The basal cell carcinoma – just like the spinalioma – is mainly caused by excessive UV radiation of the skin (sun, solarium). White skin cancer of both types can therefore be prevented above all by consistent UV protection: Avoid direct sunlight (especially during the midday hours). Also protect your skin with suitable sun protection creams and textiles. Especially people with light skin type should adhere to it, as they have a higher risk of skin cancer.
In addition to UV light, a genetic predisposition as well as some hereditary diseases can also favour the development of a basal cell carcinoma. Prevention is not possible here. Another risk factor are various substances and chemicals such as arsenic. These should be avoided if possible to prevent basal cell carcinoma.