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Basal Cell Carcinoma Resources
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Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs in the cells that make up the lower part of the top layer of skin, while Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs in the upper part of the top layer of skin. Basal cell carcinoma is seldom life-threatening but it can be disfiguring.

What are the symptoms of basal cell carcinoma?
You may first notice a small pearly-looking skin growth. It may also look like an open sore that won't heal, a red patch or a shiny bump. Sometimes it resembles another skin condition and is mistaken for eczema or psoriasis. You should ask your doctor to examine any suspicious area on your skin.

How is basal cell carcinoma diagnosed?
After a physical examination, your doctor will order or perform a biopsy. A small sample of the questionable area will be removed and examined under a microscope.

What are the treatments for basal cell carcinoma?
There are multiple treatment options for Basal Cell Carcinoma, depending on type, size location and depth of the growth as well as your age and physical condition. Your doctor will choose the treatment or treatments best suited for you.

Options include:

  • Curettage and electrodessication: This process involves removing the growth with a special instrument called a curette. The area is then burned with an electrocautery needle.
  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery: The doctor removes one small layer at a time, each of which is examined microscopically. The process continues until a cancer-free section is examined. This option is especially useful in places like the face or other highly visible areas, or other places on the body where precision is more important.
  • Surgery: The tumor is surgically removed and the resulting wound is stitched shut.
  • Radiation: This is usually chosen only for tumors in specific areas or for patients in poor health who may not be candidates for surgery.
  • Cryosurgery: This process involves destroying the tumor by freezing it with liquid nitrogen.
  • Photodynamic therapy: This involves an application of a light-sensitizing agent to the tumor. A special light therapy is then aimed at the area being treated.
  • Other treatments: Laser surgery is an infrequent option. At times, topical creams are prescribed to be applied for several weeks. For advanced or recurring tumors, treatment with oral medications may be used.
What are the risk factors for basal cell carcinoma?
The biggest risk factor is sun exposure, including a history of sunburns. If you work outdoors or spend a lot of time out in the sun for any reason, you have an elevated risk. If you have a fair complexion, you're at a higher risk of skin cancer than are people with darker skin. However, anyone of any skin color can get skin cancer. The use of tanning beds is also a risk factor. If you have previously had Basal Cell Carcinoma, you are at higher risk of a recurrence and should have regular skin checks.

What are some additional resources for learning about basal cell carcinoma?
If you or your loved one is facing basal cell carcinomia, CalvertHealth has a whole range of services designed to help you so you never take this journey alone. Please talk to your CalvertHealth provider, your Nurse Navigator, or check the service pages for information about treatments, services and support groups.
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