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Basal Cell Carcinoma

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in the world, with more than 3 million Americans diagnosed each year, and millions globally. It is a non-melanoma cancer most often caused by unprotected skin exposure to the sun, tanning beds, or sunlamps.

Basal Cell Carcinoma gets its name because it forms in the deepest layer of the skin, called the Basal layer.


Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) tends to grow very slowly over time in sun-exposed areas. BCCs can look like many different skin growths, both cancerous and benign. It can present as a red blemish on the skin, especially on areas that are more prone to skin exposure, such as the face, arms, neck, and upper back. They can also present as a non-healing wound that easily bleeds with minimal manipulation. When in doubt, it is best to have an evaluation by a healthcare provider.

Cell Carcinoma Treatment

Treatment of early stage Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is highly effective. If left untreated, it can grow deeper and damage blood vessels and nerves in the process. As it grows deeper, the BCC can grow into the underlying bone, resulting in permanent disfigurement. In advanced cases, BCCs can permanently destroy the structures they grow into below them.

A biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the location of the BCC, the size of the lesion, and other patient-specific factors, different treatment options are available. Treatment options for Basal Cell Carcinoma can include:

Electrodessication and Curettage
A combination of scraping or shaving the affected layers of skin, and using heat to destroy any remaining cancer.

Topical Treatments
Used for superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma, the application of creams or gels onto the affected area can destroy the cancerous cells over time.

Excisional Surgery
Removal of the cancerous skin, as well as a margin of surrounding tissue to fully clear the cancerous cells.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery (Mohs Surgery)
Cutting out the skin layer by layer until the entire skin cancer is removed.

Radiation Therapy
Using low-energy X-ray beams to destroy the cancerous cells, typically with a series of treatment sessions.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Use of a topical agent that makes the affected area sensitive to light, and apply a blue light or laser to destroy the cancerous cells.

Laser Surgery
Using intense energy in the form of light to destroy the cancerous cells.

Learn more about how we treat different types of skin cancers.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Prevention

You can take steps to prevent Basal Cell Carcinoma by applying a 30+ SPF sunscreen thoroughly, especially on your ears, neck, forearms, and hands. An SPF lip moisturizer or chapstick is also recommended for periods of sun exposure – and don’t forget about the top of your head! If you can’t apply sunscreen directly to your scalp, wear a hat, especially one with SPF protection.

Having regular skin checks and being aware of changes to your skin are also great defenses against skin cancers like Basal Cell Carcinoma.