Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment Options
Surgery – to remove the tissue
There are several different types of surgical procedures that can be used:
- Excision – the entire growth is removed along with a surrounding border of normal skin
- Curettage and electrodesiccation – the tumor is scraped down to its base followed by pulses of electrical energy
- Mohs surgery – the goal is to remove skin cancer one layer at a time to spare normal, healthy tissue. After each layer is removed, it is sent to an on-site laboratory to be examined by the surgeon. This allows your dermatologic surgeon to know whether more layers need to be removed in real-time.
Basal Cell Carcinoma can invade nearby tissue. If this happens, more tissue will need to be removed, leading to larger scars that some people may find upsetting. That's why it is important to get things checked out early. When found early, they are usually much easier to remove and your surgery site will be smaller.
Medications for the Skin
If BCC is “superficial” (in other words, not very deep in the skin), creams containing medications (imiquimod or 5-florouracil) can be applied to the skin.
Radiation is most often used in patients who cannot undergo surgery for one reason or another. It may also be used in patients who have BCC that has spread to lymph nodes. It may not be recommended for people with BCCNS because they are at higher risk of forming numerous new skin cancers after radiation exposure.
Advanced Basal Cell Carcinoma
For patients who have had extensive surgeries and can no longer undergo any more procedures because of how advanced the disease is locally and patients with stage IV disease, where the primary tumor is a certain size and can involve local lymph nodes and, rarely, distant metastasis (most often lungs, bones, and liver), other treatments such as (intravenous) chemotherapy, targeted therapy (that work to block signals that tell cancer to grow in certain people), palliative care (to help with physical and emotional symptoms) and clinical trials may be available.