Basal cell carcinoma is not only the most common type of skin cancer, but also the most common type of cancer overall. Approximately 2 million Americans are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma each year.
Basal cell carcinomas are usually irregular in shape, but may be flat, depressed or elevated relative to adjacent skin. Overlying skin may be intact or eroded with a history of periodic bleeding or non-healing. Sometimes, basal cell carcinomas look like a scar, pimple or cyst that may be growing, not healing, or recurring. They can either be asymptomatic or sensitive and painful, and can occur on any cutaneous surface, but occur most commonly in sun-exposed areas.
Common clinical basal cell carcinoma types include cystic, nodular, sclerosing (scar-like), keratotic, superficial and pigmented (resembling melanoma skin cancer), as well as mixed types. Pathologic subtypes are even more numerous.
Genetic predisposition and lifetime cumulative sun exposure are important risk factors for the development of most skin cancers, especially basal cell carcinoma.
Other risk factors include increasing age, personal history of skin cancer, radiation therapy, immune-suppressing medications, and inherited syndromes that cause skin cancer.
Diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma is confirmed by biopsy or removal with pathologic examination.
All cancer, including skin cancer, should be completely destroyed or thoroughly removed. Untreated basal cell carcinoma can metastasize (i.e. spread to other tissues) and eventually become difficult to treat or incurable. Fortunately, most basal cell carcinomas are slow growing, don’t metastasize readily or prior to treatment, and are generally highly curable.
Excision or Mohs Surgery are usually the preferred treatment options.
With over 25 years experience, board-certified dermatologist and fellow-trained Mohs skin cancer surgeon Dr. Robert Strimling, MD specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment (including Mohs surgery), and reconstruction of basal cell carcinoma and other skin cancers.