Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It typically arises in the basal cells, which are located in the deepest layer of the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma is considered a non-melanoma skin cancer, and it tends to be slow-growing and rarely spreads to other parts of the body (metastasizes). However, if left untreated, it can invade surrounding tissues and cause disfigurement.

Key characteristics of basal cell carcinoma include:

  1. Appearance: BCC often appears as a pearly or waxy bump on the skin. It may also present as a flesh-colored, pink, or brownish patch or sore. The lesion may bleed, ooze, or develop a scab. It can sometimes resemble a non-healing ulcer.
  2. Location: Basal cell carcinoma typically occurs on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, back, and shoulders. However, it can develop on any part of the body.
  3. Slow Growth: BCC usually grows slowly and may not show significant changes over time, which can make it easy to overlook or mistake for a benign skin condition.
  4. Localized: While basal cell carcinoma tends to stay local and not spread to other organs, it can cause significant damage to the skin and surrounding tissues if left untreated.

Treatment for basal cell carcinoma typically involves the removal of the cancerous tissue. Several treatment options are available, including:

  1. Surgical excision: The tumor is cut out along with some surrounding healthy tissue.
  2. Mohs surgery: A specialized procedure to remove thin layers of cancerous tissue while sparing healthy tissue, often used for larger or aggressive BCCs.
  3. Curettage and electrodessication: The tumor is scraped away (curettage) and then burned with an electric current (electrodessication).
  4. Cryotherapy: Freezing the tumor with liquid nitrogen.
  5. Radiation therapy: Used in specific cases where surgery may not be suitable or to treat tumors in certain locations.
  6. Topical medications: Creams or gels containing medications like imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil may be used for some superficial BCCs.

It's important to detect and treat basal cell carcinoma early to prevent further growth and damage. Regular skin examinations, especially for those with a history of skin cancer or high sun exposure, can help catch these lesions in their early stages. Sun protection and minimizing sun exposure are also essential in preventing skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma.

If you have a suspicious lesion or need a skin check, contact us or schedule an appointment online