Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer in the United States. Basal cell carcinoma is believed to be caused principally by the sun and occur more commonly in fair skinned individuals who sun burn easily. They also occur in patients who have been exposed to radiation or who take immunosuppressive drugs (for organ transplants or autoimmune diseases). BCC usually presents as a “pearly” bump or as a non-healing growth in the skin. They are typically found in a chronically sun-exposed location of the body such as the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, legs and arms.
Christopher Knight speaks at Skin for Life about his
treatments for basal cell carcinoma.
The clinical diagnosis of Basal cell carcinoma is confirmed with a skin biopsy performed in the office. These tumors rarely metastasize and are usually not life threatening, unless they grow into bone, cartilage or nerves. Treatment for the vast majority of cases is surgical. Simple excision is the most common removal and does require stitches. At times, MOHS surgery is performed: if the BCC is recurrent, a particularly aggressive cell type, or in the H zone of the face (high risk area for recurrence, usually includes the nose, eyes, or mouth). MOHS surgery, offered at Advanced Dermatology, with MOHS surgeon, Dr. Meghan Morrow, is a treatment where Dr. Morrow evaluates frozen section of the surgery to determine best margins and ensure complete removal. For superficial BCC, we can also consider prescription creams, electrosurgery and photodynamic therapy.
Surgery is curative. There is a 1-5% recurrence rate after surgery, but the individual who develops the skin cancer is at risk for getting a completely new one within 5 years, as well as being more susceptible to getting squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. For prevention the following steps are helpful for prevention: start using a sunscreen on a daily basis and on every exposed area of the body (some types of UV light goes through window glass so you need to wear sunscreen even in the winter- use a sunscreen that is at least spf 30 and has >5% zinc oxide such as EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40, skinfo® Vita Lite Protect SPF 50+ or Elizabeth Arden Triple Protection Factor SPF 50+, start using an antioxidant that helps to repair skin (skinfo® C Synergy Serum), as well as a DNA-Repair cream (Priori Cellular Recovery Serum). These 3 skin care items can help to prevent new lesions from forming if used regularly.