5 Common Treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the United States. It is also very treatable as it hardly ever metastases or spreads beyond the initial site. “The goal of treatment is to cure the patient’s disease before the tumor invades and destroys local structures,” explains Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and fellowship trained Mohs micrographic surgeon in Austin, Texas. There are a number of modalities available for treating Basal Cell Carcinoma, including:
1. Excisional Surgery
In this treatment, a physician will go in with a scalpel and remove the affected area as well as a margin of apparently healthy skin surrounding the site as a safety margin. The area is then closed with stitches and a pathologist examines the excised tissue to verify that all of the cancerous cells have been removed and the margins are clear.
2. Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs surgery is one of the most well-known treatments for basal cell carcinoma. It has the highest cure-rate around and can save the greatest amount of surrounding, healthy tissue while removing a cancerous tumor. In Mohs surgery, layers of skin are removed and checked until the excised skin contains no cancer cells, and the cancer is unlikely to recur. As such, Mohs surgery has become the gold standard for treating basal cell carcinoma in the skin.
3. Curettage and Electrodesiccation
Under local anesthesia, a tumor is removed with a curette – an instrument with a sharp, ring-shaped tip – and the site is then desiccated with an electrocautery needle. Sometimes it’s necessary for this to be repeated a few times to ensure that all of the cancer sells have been removed.
Radiation treatment is sometimes suggested for elderly patients in poor health and those with tumors which would be difficult to manage with other treatments. Several sessions are needed with this kind of treatment, sometimes up to once daily for a month.
5. Topical Creams
Topical chemotherapies and immune modulating creams that stimulate the body to attack and kill cancer cells are available for specific types of basal cell carcinoma. These preparations are applied for a number of weeks until the malignant cells have been destroyed.
Keep in mind that these are far from the only treatments available for those with basal cell carcinoma. Your dermatologist may suggest laser surgery, cryotherapy, oral medications, or photodynamic therapy depending on the nature and severity of your case.
“Left unchecked, Basal Cell Carcinoma can break down the skin creating ulcers and sores that can bleed and predispose patient to infections. With time, they can destroy skin, cartilage, even muscle and bone.” Dr. Mamelak encourages patients to get their skin examined by a professional on a regular basis, and have suspicious skin lesions evaluate without delay.
Dr. Mamelak treats cutaneous oncology patients at Sanova Dermatology and the Austin Mohs Surgery Center. Contact us for more information on Basal Cell Carcinoma and what treatment options might be available to you.