Basal Cell Carcinoma in the News

Chilly temperatures help cancers grow (including Basal Cell Carcinoma)

November 18, 2013

At low temperatures the human body has a hard time. As the cold sets in, blood vessels constrict to maintain heat and some body parts – like fingers and toes – begin to suffer. Metabolism ramps up to fight the cold and shivering sets in. As these conditions continue, everything becomes sluggish as the cells of your body do not work as well. The body enters a state of thermal stress and only the most vital systems, like the brain, are left switched on.

New drug could help to Basal Cell Carcinoma

September 30th, 2013

A new once-a-day pill has been developed to help tackle basal cell carcinoma, a non-melanoma form of skin cancer.
The prescription-only treatment can shrink Basal Cell Carcinoma — which most often occur on the head and neck — in up to half of patients not considered suitable for surgery or radiotherapy.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the UK.
The new pill has been shown to shrink Basal Cell Carcinoma in 47 per cent of patients where the disease hasn’t spread (and in a third of those where the Basal Cell Carcinoma has spread).
The European drug regulator has given the go-ahead for the drug, known as vismodegib.
The medication is still to be assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Wrinkles and skin cancer
May 10th, 2013

People with wrinkles on their face seem less likely to develop skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma).

It’s often assumed that photoageing – the wrinkles and other skin damage that come from chronic sun exposure – must go hand in hand with an increased risk of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma). In fact, this isn’t the case, according to a study from researchers at the University of Manchester in England.

They studied 118 patients with basal cell carcinoma – the most common form of skin cancer – and compared their skin with that of 121 patients without cancer. All the patients were over 50. Those with cancer tended to have smoother skin than those without.

The researchers wonder if cancer and wrinkling therefore arise by two different mechanisms of responding to sunlight. One leads to a loss of the fibrous protein collagen and therefore skin elasticity, which produces wrinkles. The other preserves collagen, at the expense of allowing cancer cells to thrive. Basal cell carcinoma is highly curable if caught early, but it may be worth accepting a few wrinkles if it means your cancer risk is lessened.

May 2013
Some interesting facts recently released in the UK about Basal Cell Carcinoma:
  • Basal cell carcinomas have risen by 80% in the last 10 years (twice the official toll)
  • 200,000 cases of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) a year means it is nearly as common as all other cancers put together.  
  • The cost of treatment of  basal cell carcinomas to the NHS is likely to be more than £200m a year.
  • Each  case of basal cell carcinomas costs around £1,000 to treat.
The research was carried out by doctors from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Eastern Cancer Registration Centre in Cambridge.

In the UK, Mohs surgery and the reconstruction surgery, costs approximately £3,500
If anyone has information about the costs of having  Mohs surgery for treating Basal Cell Carcinoma, please drop me an email, and I will publish a country/country comparison.

Non melanoma skin cancer risks can increase for people taking photosensitive medications.

February 1st,  2013
Researchers found that certain antibiotics and blood pressure medications may increase the odds of developing basal and squamous cell carcinoma.

Full story: differs between skin cancers

Monday, December 24, 2012
Researchers looked at data from nearly 500 patients treated for either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common types of skin cancer.
Itch was the most common symptom reported in both skin cancers 43% of patients with squamous cell and 33% of those with basal cell reported the symptom. Pain was much more common in patients with squamous cell carcinoma (almost 40%) than in those with basal cell carcinoma (nearly 18%), the investigators found.

Full story:,78641.asp

Researchers reveal molecular mechanisms that lead to basal cell carcinoma initiation.

November 26, 2012

In a new study published in advanced online publication of Nature Cell Biology, researchers lead by Cédric Blanpain, MD/PhD, Professor at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and WELBIO investigator dissected for the first time the molecular changes occurring in basal cell carcinoma initiating cells from the first oncogenic mutation until the development of invasive cancer.

Full story here.

Harrison Ford has benign lump (Basal Cell Carcinoma) removed from nose

IndiaGlitz [Friday, October 26, 2012]

The Star Wars legend consulted doctors after discovering the growth was a non-cancerous basal cell carcinoma and recently went under the knife to treat the condition.
A representative for the 70 year old confirmed he had the operation, but has played down a tabloid report published in the National Enquirer suggesting Ford and his wife, actress Calista Flockhart, were fearing for his life.
The spokesperson tells Ford is fine and in good health.

(A course of treatment with Curaderm BEC5 would probably have sufficed.)

Coffee consumption can reduce the risk of a common and slow-growing form of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma, according a study. 

Oct,31, 2012

The prospective study examined the risks of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma in connection with coffee consumption and found a decreased risk for basal cell carcinoma only.

“Given the nearly 1 million new cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed each year in the United States, daily dietary factors with even small protective effects may have great public health impact,” said Fengju Song, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“Our study indicates that coffee consumption may be an important option to help prevent basal cell carcinoma,” Song noted.

Song and colleagues reported that women who consumed more than three cups of coffee per day had a 20 percent reduction in risk for basal cell carcinoma, and men who consumed more than three cups per day had a nine percent risk reduction compared with people who consumed less than one cup per month.

The amount of coffee consumption was inversely associated with basal cell carcinoma risk.

The study was presented at the 10th AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

New drug can fight inherited skin cancer

Jun. 9, 2012
There is a new drug to fight skin cancer for the sun-splashed masses of Arizona.
The drug, vismodegib, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in January for people with an advanced form of one type of skin cancer, basal-cell carcinoma. New research unveiled last week by local doctors and other scientists shows that people with an inherited form of the skin cancer also benefit from the drug.
"This drug offers hope where there was none before," said Aleksander Sekulic, a Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale dermatologist who was the lead author on one of two studies published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It's hard to pinpoint the number of basal cell carcinoma cases nationwide because they are not reported to cancer registries. In 2006, an estimated 3.5 million people were diagnosed and 2.2 million treated nationwide for the common skin cancer, which accounts for about 80 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers.
The cancer can be surgically removed if detected early but may become life-threatening if it advances or spreads to other parts of the body. Standard cancer treatments such as surgery and radiation may not work when it spreads.
Basal-cell carcinoma is especially prevalent in Arizona because of the intense sun.
"This is what people blow off as just skin cancer, when in fact basal cell can have a tremendous impact," said Lee Cranmer, an associate professor and skin-cancer specialist at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson.
The two studies published last week in the New England Journal suggested the drug can shrink tumors in people with advanced basal-cell carcinoma and prevent cancerous growths among people who have a genetic predisposition, known as basal-cell nevus syndrome, or Gorlin syndrome.
In an editorial published last week, the New England Journal described the drug as the "greatest advance in therapy yet seen for the disease," although the author also cautioned about side effects.
Sekulic's study found that of 33 people with metastatic basal-cell carcinoma, 30 percent responded well to the drug, with tumors shrinking. Of 63 people with an advanced form of the disease, 43 percent had positive responses. More than 30 percent reported side effects such as muscle spasms, taste loss, hair loss, muscle cramps and fatigue. About 1 in 4 had more serious side effects, and seven died.
Based on data from the study, the FDA in January approved the drug for people with advanced and metastatic basal-cell carcinomas. Genentech, a California company owned by drug giant Roche Holding, developed the drug, which is sold under the brand name Erivedge.
Other research suggests the drug may have broader use.
Another study published last week followed people with Gorlin syndrome who took the drug and a control group that did not receive the medicine. People with Gorlin syndrome can develop hundreds or thousands of cancerous growths.
People who took the drug reported two new tumors per year, compared with 29 new tumors per year for those on a placebo. The study found that 14 of 26 patients, or 54 percent, discontinued use of the drug due to side effects.
The New England Journal editorial said the drug is "tailor-made for patients with the basal-cell nevus syndrome. However, the side effects are considerable and frequent, resulting in high rates of drug discontinuation, and these rates will probably be even higher in clinical practice."
Dermatologists and oncologists also think the drug could be used on patients earlier in treatment. That potentially could let doctors shrink tumors before they are surgically removed.
Basal-cell tumors often are found on the face in delicate areas such as the eyelids, nose or nasal passages. People frequently have to undergo cosmetic surgery to repair damaged tissue after tumors are removed.

Saturday, 21st January, 2012

Cannabis Science, Inc has recently reported the successful treatment of a patient who had basal cell carcinoma on the side of her nose.  The basal cell carcinoma was treated with a topical cannabis extract. Below you can see the progress of the treatment in pictures that were taken over a ten day period.  (top left oldest, bottom right at the end of the treatment)
No biopsy was reported after treatment which I would like to have seen, but the photos posted look promising.
Cannabis Science, Inc. focuses on the development of medical marijuana.  If this does indeed prove to be a successful treatment of basal cell carcinoma, we can expect to see the company shares rise in price.  More details on this story.
 basal cell carcinoma pictures cannabis

Saturday, 14th January, 2012

This is great news.  There is now another topical treatment under study in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma.  It is a cream that uses rhenium-188. Rhenium was discovered in 1925 and is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust, and is also used in jet engines!
If trials prove successful this could have a similar effet to curaderm bec5 as it will mean that invasive surgery is not required to treat basal cell carcinoma, this is particulary important as BCC often appears on the face and surgery can leave substantal scarring.
The radioactive material is produced at Institut Laue-Langevin based in Grenoble, France.

Saturday, 31st December, 2011

Well done Nova Scotia! In June this year (2011) the government of Nova Scotia banned indoor tanning beds for anyone under 19 years old.  The incidence of basal cell carcinoma associated with indoor tanning has been shown by a recent study carried out by Yale University and published by the American Society of Dermatology.  Young people run a 69% risk of developing basal cell carcinoma by age 40.  Anybody caught offering indoor tanning to people under 19 years old face a $10,000 fine.  The risk of getting basal cell carcinoma from indoor tanning have been proved,  why would anyone run the (high) risk of developing a cancer like basal cell carcinoma purely for cosmetic reasons?

Friday, 30th December, 2011

A recent research paper showed that 18% of basal cell carcinoma sub types biopsied using standard punch and shave biopsy techniques are misdiagnosed. This is a surprisingly high number and one wonders what the cause is. Is it the method of biopsy? or human misidentification?

Friday, 9th December, 2011

Non-melanoma skin cancers like Basal Cell Carcinoma are more likely in women who smoke or have smoked cigarettes.
The study involved 698 people and was carried out by Moffitt’s Lifetime Screening and Prevention Center and the University of South Florida’s Dermatology and Family Medicine Clinics.
The study seems to indicate that statistically, women who smoke are more likely to get squamous cell carcinomas but not so much Basal Cell Carcinoma.  Among men there was a slight increase in the chance of getting non-melanoma skin cancers, but more so in women.  It seems that women have more CYP enzymes and higher levels of DNA adducts and lower levels of DNA repair in the lung as compared to men. 

Also recently, the news that squamous cell carcinomas but not Basal Cell Carcinoma are linked to Radon gas (a naturally occurring gas that is invisible and has no smell) is interesting because it seems that there is some synergy between smoking, radon gas and non-melanoma skin cancers. So, if you are a woman who smokes and lives in an area that has radon gas your chances of developing a non-melanoma skin cancer seem to be higher.


Saturday, 3rd December, 2011

New data from Brazilian National Cancer Institute
In 2009 there were 114,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer predicted for 2010.  Now there are 134,170 predicted for 2012 an increase of 20,170.

But most surprisingly is that in Brazil skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma are more common in women.  In almost all other countries in the world, the rates of  non melanoma skin cancer is higher in men ..In 2012, it is estimated, for Brazil, 62,680 new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer in men and 71,490 in women. These values correspond to an estimated risk of 65 new cases per 100,000 for men and 71 new cases per  100,000. 

Why should Brazil be different to the rest of the world?
Full report from: Instituto Nacional de Câncer José Alencar Gomes da Silva

Saturday 26th November, 2011

Since I posted the article from Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center last Thursday, the thought that UV radiation might not be the whole story behind basal cell carcinoma has been bugging me.  So I have done some digging around and come up with:

"people who use sunscreens don't necessarily have fewer skin cancers"
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York

"The primary cause of basal cell cancer is overexposure to the sun and those with fair complexions are especially susceptible."

Yale School of Medicine

"Arsenic or pectro chemicals could also be a cause of Basal Cell Carcinoma"

Nova Southeastern University

"Discovery of a genetic cause of basal cell carcinoma"

Stanford University School of Medicine

"Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light through time spent in the sun—particularly as a child—is recognized as the primary cause of basal cell carcinoma"

NYU Langone Medical Center

"Intermittent sunburn is the main cause of basal cell"

University of Delaware

"chronic overexposure to the sun is the cause for most cases of basal cell carcinoma"

Brazosport College

So which is it?  Getting sunburnt as a child?, chronic overexposure as a teen or adult?  Is it cumulative sun exposure or can one or two nasty sunburns during life cause it and sunscreen doesn't help prevent it.  Or, is it caused by Arsenic or pectro chemicals? or is it in our genes and there's nothing we can do about it? (at the moment)

Yours etc...Mr.Confused

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
A new report from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, says "people who use sunscreens don't necessarily have fewer skin cancers"
Whilst UV radiation seems to be the prime suspect in skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, other factors may be more influental than was thought.  This is a bit of a surprise to me, but I for one will keep putting my daily splodge of sunscreen (SP35) on!

Friday, November 18th, 2011

The King of Belgium, Albert II (77 years old), had surgery yesterday to remove a Basal cell carcinoma on his nose.
In 1875 Charles Julius Hempel Bernhard Baehr in his book "The Science Of Therapeutics: According To The Principles Of Homeopathy", described basal cell carcinoma as "preeminently a disease of the lower classes" Not so in this case!

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

If we look at the statistics below, we can see that you are more likely to get Melanoma skin cancer if you live in Northern Europe rather than if you live in Southern or Central/Eastern Europe.
This is quite surprising because we tend to think of skin cancer as being associated with hot sunny countries.

Lesson? It might be that you need sunscreen more at home than when you go for a holiday in the sun!


         Skin Cancer Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population  (2008)

                    Region                           Female      Male

                    Northern Europe              13,4         12,3
                    Western Europe               12,0         10,6
                    Southern Europe               06,5         06,5
                  Central and Eastern Europe  04,3         04,4



Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Skin Cancer awareness day in Sorocaba, Brazil is on Sat 19th Nov.  Last years result was that 14.5% of people examined had a form of skin cancer.

The Department of Health in Sorocaba (a Brazilian city located in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Pop 584,313) is finalizing preparations for the Campaign for Prevention of Skin Cancer 2011. The task forces' annual clinic, open to the general population, will be held in partnership with the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD) on the 19th November, at the Municipal health center, from 8am to 12pm.

 Last year, the task force evaluated 988 individuals and detected 143 malignant lesions. Of this total, 14 melanomas were considered the most serious type of skin cancer. 90 tumors were also detected on the type of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), 23 tumors like squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and 16 other types of malignant tumors. We also identified 282 premalignant lesions that can progress to skin cancer and skin diseases 496 (other skin diseases).

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

This is important:
Research from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, seems to indicate that people who are diagnosed with a basal cell carcinoma have a 30% chance of developing another BCC within 5 years.  Remember to get regular checkups if you have had a basal cell carcinoma.
The article was published in the (click for link) British Journal of Dermatology
Volume 165, Issue 4, pages 874–881, October 2011

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) have published a report on the link between basal cell carcinoma and and sunbeds.  They studied 73,494 nurses between 1989 and 2009 and found that the risk of getting basal cell carcinoma increased by 15% for every four uses of a sunbed.
It seems that if you want to prevent basal cell carcinoma while using a sunbed to get a tan, use a UV (sunblock) cream while doing it, which makes the whole use of sunbeds pretty pointless.
The research was presented at an American Association for Cancer Research conference in Boston from October 22nd to 25th 2011.