Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. It tends to grow slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. It appears on the skin surface as growths or lesions that can have varying forms, including red patches of skin, pink growths, open sores and shiny bumps. Basal cell carcinomas are commonly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Basal cell carcinomas are rarely life-threatening, though their appearance can be highly unsightly.
One common symptom of a basal cell carcinoma is a wound or sore that will not heal. Typically, the wound or sore may bleed or ooze and remain unhealed for an abnormal length of time before eventually healing. It will then reopen and start to ooze or bleed. This process can repeat itself several times.
Basal cell carcinomas present themselves as reddish areas of skin on the parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, including the face, neck, arms, and legs. Itching is an occasional side effect.
Basal cell carcinomas can also appear as a scar, pink growths, or as shiny bumps that appear red, pink or white. These shiny bumps are often mistaken for moles.
A biopsy is often used to confirm a diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma. Once confirmed, basal cell carcinomas can be treated through:
- Mohs micrographic surgery – Uses local anesthesia to remove tumors. Advantages of Mohs surgery include its ability to spare healthy tissue and achieve the highest high cure rate.
- Excisional surgery – Unlike Mohs surgery, this procedure calls for the removal of small areas of surrounding healthy tissue as a preventive measure. Cure rates average about 90 percent.
- Electrodesiccation and curettage – Also uses local surgery. Here, the growth is scraped off and cauterized to destroy any remaining tumor cells and to stop bleeding. Usually not suitable for advanced cases or for growths in hard-to-reach areas.
- Cryosurgery – Destroys tumors through freezing with liquid nitrogen.
- Topical ointments – There are also ointments available such as 5-Fluorouracil – ask your physician if these are a viable option for you.
In addition to treatment, we place great emphasis on skin cancer prevention and education. Our dermatology providers will provide guidance on sun protection measures, regular self-examination, and the importance of scheduling routine skin cancer screenings to detect any suspicious lesions early.
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