If you’re asking the question, what is skin cancer? What is basal cell carcinoma? How does skin cancer occur in the body, then this video by skin cancer specialist, Dr. Patrick Sniezek of the Mohs Surgery and Skin Cancer Center in Colorado Springs, CO, is for you:
So that’s a great question. I think to back up, I think of a better place to start is to say: what is cancer?
Cancer, essentially, whether it’s in the skin or any other organ is an unchecked progression of cells that continue to grow beyond their normal life span. So, most all cells are pre-programmed to divide a certain number of times and then there’s something called apoptosis, which it means programmed cell death. So, all the cells in our body are programmed to replicate or turn over a certain number of times, upon which, they die. And then new cells will take their place.
So, in cancer, for some reason, the breaks on programmed cell death are not working, and so those cells continue to replicate and not die. But when they do that, they don’t do that properly, so their DNA is changed to a certain point where the cells aren’t necessarily as specialized as the original parent cell is.
So, in skin cancer, there are various types of skin cancer, but for instance, the most common type of skin cancer is called basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell is not only the most common type of sin cancer, it comprises 80% of all skin cancers, but it’s the most common type of cancer overall. Basal cell carcinoma originates from the base or basal cells in the epidermis, so the layer between the epidermis and dermis. It’s called the basal cell area or base membrane.
So, basal cell carcinoma is basically an overgrowth of those cells, usually caused by something that would mutate those cells. In our case, the vast majority of cancer in basal cells is caused by ultraviolet radiation which changes or alters the DNA, thereby allowing cells to continue to grow out of proportion, or conversely, not stopping and die after so many replications for cell turn over.