Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Treatment

BCC is the most common type of skin cancer today, accounting for over 75% of all skin cancers diagnosed.

The Facts:

  • BCCs grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body.
  • BCCs can be relatively large by the time they are diagnosed and treated.
  • If they are not diagnosed and treated early enough they can damage the surrounding skin and underlying tissue causing a "rodent ulcer".

The Good News:

While it is the most common type of skin cancer, it is also the least dangerous and is nearly always completely cured with the right treatment.

What causes BCC?

There are various factors that lead to the development of BCCs, however research shows that growing up with excessive sun exposure is by far the leading factor in developing BCCs later in life.

You have a higher risk of developing a BCC if:

  • You have fair skin.
  • You have a strong family history of BCC.
  • You have a Celtic background.

What does BCC look like?

  • It usually starts with a subtle change to the skin, either a pale nodule or a flat red area.
  • BCCs develop quite slowly, taking months or years, steadily increasing in size and becoming more obvious.
  • Eventually they may develop into a non-healing sore.
  • BCCs are often not noticed until they are quite well developed and their appearance can be confused with that of a mole, area of dermatitis, or a scar.

Four types of Basal Cell Carcinoma:

  • Superficial
  • Nodular
  • Infiltrating
  • Pigmented

How is BCC treated?

Most lesions are removed surgically. Difficult, hard-to-define BCCs are often excised under microscopic control (Mohs Surgery). Other treatment modalities, especially for superficial lesions, include curettage and cautery, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy and immunotherapy (utitlising imiquimod cream).

Radiotherapy is also used, particularly in older patients.

What sort of follow up is needed?

After the removal of a BCC we recommend that you undergo skin checks every 6 to 12 months.

Regular, quarterly self-examinations of the skin are important to detect any suspicious new lesions that may need to be reported to Dr Gillespie.