What is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?

This is the most common form of skin cancer. Basal cells reside in the deepest layer of the epidermis.  When a person is overexposed to UV radiation, it damages the body's natural repair system, which causes basal cell carcinomas to grow. These tend to be slow-growing tumors and rarely metastasize (spread). 

What does a Basal Cell Carcinoma look like?

Basal cell carcinomas can present in a number of different ways:

  • Raised pink bump with a pearly edge and small, visible blood vessels

  • Brown/black dome-shaped bumps that look like moles with a pearly edge

  • A sore that continuously heals and re-opens

  • Flat red scaly scar with a waxy appearance and blurred edges

What are the causes of Basal Cell Carcinoma and who gets it?

Risk factors for basal cell carcinoma include having fair skin, sun exposure, age (most skin cancers occur after age 50), exposure to ultraviolet radiation (as in tanning beds), and therapeutic radiation given to treat an unrelated health issue. 

If you have had one Basal Cell Carcinoma, your risk of developing a second one increases by about 50%.  You also have an increased risk if you have close blood relative that had BCC.  If you are on an immunosuppressant medication, your risk of developing a BCC increases.  


When should I see a dermatologist?

You should see a dermatologist for evaluation if you have a bump that:

  • Bleeds easily

  • Won’t heal, or heals and returns

  • Oozes or crusts over

  • Has a sunken center

How is a basal cell carcinoma diagnosed?

Diagnosing basal cell carcinoma requires a simple skin biopsy that can be performed in the office by a dermatologist during your visit.  During the skin biopsy, the suspicious lesion is removed and the sample will be sent to a laboratory to be analyzed under a microscope. 

What are treatments for basal cell carcinoma?

Some of the treatments for BCC include

  • Excision — This is a surgical treatment where the tumor is removed and cut out with some normal-looking skin around the tumor. Your dermatologist will stitch up the area after the excision. This is an outpatient procedure and a common way to treat BCC. The removed skin is also sent out to the laboratory to ensure that the skin is free of cancer.

  • Curettage and Desiccation — This in-office treatment involves using a small metal instrument (called a curette) to scrape out the tumor along with using electrocautery into the tissue to kill off any remaining cancer cells.

  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery — This specialized surgical treatment is indicated for large tumors and for BCC in certain anatomic locations. Mohs Surgery combines removal of cancerous tissue with microscopic review while the surgery takes place. By mapping the diseased tissue layer by layer, less healthy skin is damaged when removing the tumor. It has the highest cure rate for BCC. Your dermatologist will let you know if Mohs surgery is recommended and right for you.

  • Prescription Medicated Creams — These creams can be applied at home. They stimulate the body's natural immune system over the course of weeks. The most common medications are imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil.

  • Cryosurgery — Some basal cell carcinomas respond to cryosurgery, where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze off the tumor.

  • Radiation Therapy — Radiation therapy is used for difficult-to-treat tumors, either because of their location, severity, or persistence. If radiation therapy is an option, your dermatologist will refer you to a radiation oncologist.

Our board certified dermatologists and providers here at Integrated Dermatology will discuss with you your treatment options and will recommend a treatment that is right for you.

What is the outcome if receive treatment for a basal cell carcinoma?

Nearly every basal cell cancer can be cured, especially when the cancer is found early and treated. 

Why should I choose Integrated Dermatology to diagnose and treat my skin cancer?

Our board certified dermatologists and providers are experts in the field of dermatology and can properly diagnose and treat skin cancers.  Our experts perform complete body exams and skin cancer examinations routinely and can accurately diagnose various types of skin cancers. Our dermatologists are also trained as dermatologic surgeons and can treat your skin cancer to the gold standard of care.  Any suspicious lesion will be biopsied and sent out for analysis at a laboratory.  We also work with specialized physicians called dermatopathologists that have expert training in properly diagnosing skin cancer under the microscope.  Our providers have every patient’s interest at heart and strive to provide the highest level of care.

Worried that you may have skin cancer?