What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, is a locally destructive type of skin cancer caused by the sun. It often presents as a slowly growing clear or bleeding bump on the skin or a non-healing sore on the sun-exposed parts of the body. It is not only seen in light skinned people, but also in Asian and Hispanic patients. Fortunately, basal cell carcinomas metastasize in only rare cases.

May appear as:

  • A small pimple-like bump that does not heal
  • A firm spot that is tender and bleeds easily
  • It may be asymptomatic
  • Usually a pearly light pink color, but many also have a little bit of gray or brown pigment

Risk factors include:

  • Long-term sun exposure
  • Blistering sunburns in childhood
  • Prior history of basal cell carcinoma

 

Treatment Options

Basal cell carcinoma is best treated by surgical excision or by a technique called “Mohs surgery” performed by a specialized dermatologist. Other methods include “electrodessication and curettage” in which the cancer is removed by scraping and burning the surrounding tissue, as well as use of a topical chemotherapy cream for 6-8 weeks.

 

Prevention

  • Use of regular sun protection including sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater
  • Sun protective clothing such as long sleeves and hats
  • Avoidance of the mid day sun
  • Regular skin checks