Basal cell cancer and treatments

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Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a type of skin cancer that may initiate from basal cells of the skin.

Basal cell is the site from where new skin cells generate to replace the dead skin.

BCC is one of the most common cancers that occur in humans.

In the United States, 4 million BCC cases are reported every year.

Harmful UV radiation exposure for a prolonged period is the main cause of BCC.

Therefore, the sun-exposed areas of the body like the face, arm, and neck usually get affected with BCC.

Radiation or arsenic exposure may also lead to BCC.

Inherited tendency to develop BCC is also a considerable factor.

The associated signs and symptoms of BCC are as follows:

  • Visible or palpable nodules and lumps formation on the skin is a common sign of BCC.
  • The size of the lumps is gradually bigger over time.
  • Scary appearances on the skin.
  • Itchy patches, redness on the skin are quite similar to eczema .
  • Crusty sores with depression in the middle that may often bleed.


Sometimes physical examination of the skin mole by the experienced doctor is an initial detection.

But the doctor always orders to do a biopsy for confirmation.

In a biopsy, the small section of skin is collected from a lump or on that particular area for microscopical evaluation.

Early diagnosis and immediate treatment of BCC gives better treatment outcome.

Delay diagnosis or treatment intervention can cause a large-sized tumor or extended growth.

In such cases, BCC becomes dangerous and extensive treatment require.

The aggressive nature of BCC can give fatal outcomes if prompt treatment cannot be possible.


Several effective treatments are available for early diagnosis with a small-sized tumor that occurs in BCC.

Mostly these treatments can be performed outpatient basis.

Therefore, the chance of hospitalization is minimal.

Local anesthetics are used during the minimally invasive procedures to give minimal discomfort to the patient.

Natural recovery and healing occur gradually after the procedure with insignificant scar marks.

Removal of BCC is a common treatment.

However, a treatment plan is based on multiple factors like the general health of the patient, patient age, tumor site, cancer stage, and its extension to other parts.

Following are some methods to remove BCC:

A curette is an instrument used to scratch off the small-sized, locally restricted BCC growth.

In this method, a special electric needle is used for burning the BCC and then scratching off the cancerous growth. This treatment procedure is termed.

  • Electrodessication and curettage.
  • Surgical removal
  • The doctor may prefer to perform a specialized surgical treatment called Mohs surgery.

In this procedure, the doctor first removes visible cancer, and then edges are cut.

During the surgical procedure cancer cells and tissues present around the BCC are examined thoroughly for complete removal.

A skin graft or flap may also require wound healing.

A scalpel is also used for excisional surgery to remove the surrounding tissue growth.

Cryosurgery or cryotherapy is recommended to remove the BCC through the freezing technique.

Laser treatment may also recommend for some cases.

Other treatments

Chemotherapy is also prescribed for certain cases.

Photodynamic therapy is also applied by an emitting light-sensitive agent or using blue light to the skin.

In a rare instance, radiation can also be recommended.

FDA has approved two medications vismodegib and sonidegib for the advanced stage of BCC that may be restricted locally or rarely spread to other body parts (metastatic).

These medications are also known as hedgehog inhibitors.

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