Basal Cell Carcinoma Prevention and Treatment
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. In fact, 1 out of 4 fair-skinned adults will develop a BCC in their lifetime. It most commonly appears as a pearly, pink bump on the skin that bleeds and never fully heals. BCC is a slow growing tumor that spreads locally, damaging tissue as it invades. Rarely, BCC can metastasize to distant sites and be life threatening.
A majority of BCCs occur in sun exposed skin and are directly related to long term sun exposure. Fair-skin individuals with a tendency towards sun burns are at highest risk. BCC can also occur in skin that has not had significant sun exposure, although this is less common.
At the Treasure Valley Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, we use a variety of treatment options dependent on the type, size, and location of the cancer. Some examples of treatment strategies we use include:
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery: Mohs micrographic surgery offers the highest cure rates and remains the “gold standard” treatment with cure approaching 99%. Mohs surgery is the treatment of choice for tumors occurring on the head and neck. We perform this technique in the office under local anesthesia, which decreases the cost of going into a hospital or surgical center. Our doctors are also trained in reconstructive techniques to minimize the appearance of a scar after surgery.
- Excision: In many cases basal cell carcinoma can be treated with a traditional excision. An excision is performed in the office with local anesthesia and generally takes 30 minutes or less.
- Electrodessication and Curettage (ED&C): This procedure involves scraping the tumor from the skin followed by cautery of the base. It is most commonly used for non-invasive forms of BCC.
- Topical Immunomodulatory Agents: Topical medications such as Imiquimod can be used in select tumors alone or in combination with surgery.
- Radiation Therapy: Most frequently used for tumors not easily treated with surgery or other methods listed above. We work closely with radiation oncologists in the Treasure Valley to ensure patients receive the right treatment for each tumor type.
Your Treasure Valley Dermatology provider will advise you of your best options for diagnosing and treating BCC. The main preventative measure for BCC as well as for all forms of skin cancer is proper protection from the sun with adequate clothing, a hat and broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on all sun exposed skin. Regular skin examinations with your dermatologist/dermatology provider enable early diagnosis and treatment of BCC and the best chance of cure.