Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer and accounts for approximately 80% of skin cancers in the United States. It commonly presents as a slow growing pink pearly growth, sometimes with crusting or bleeding. This type of cancer rarely spreads to other body parts and tends to grow locally in the same area. Common risk factors for basal cell carcinoma include fair skin color, sun exposure, increased age, and exposure to other forms of UV radiation such as tanning beds. There are also rare genetic conditions which increase the risk of developing basal cell carcinomas at an earlier age.
A skin biopsy is usually required to confirm the diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma. Depending on the size and location of the lesion, there are different treatment options. The most common treatment for basal cell carcinoma consists of surgical excision in which the tumor is surgically removed and stitched up. Larger tumors or lesions on cosmetically sensitive areas may require Mohs Micrographic Surgery, a tissue-sparing procedure in which the tumor is excised in layers and mapped out. Other options include curettage and electrodesiccation in which the lesion is shaved, scraped and burned with an electrical needle. Topical chemotherapy creams can also be used for superficial basal cell carcinomas in patients who are not surgical candidates. Depending on your skin type, size and location of the lesion, a dermatologist can help determine which treatment option is best.
Patients who develop any suspicious lesions that are changing, growing, bleeding or not healing, should consult a dermatologist for evaluation. Patients with a history of sun damage, precancerous lesions, or skin cancers may need routine skin examinations.