Basal Cell Cancer Treatment
The most common treatment for basal cell carcinoma involves surgical removal of the skin lesion using surgical excision, cryosurgery, electrodesiccation and curettage, or Moh's surgery. The goal is to remove the tumor so that no cancerous tissue remains. Small, superficial basal cell cancers may be treated with topical medications. Radiation therapy may also be used for large lesions.
Treatment for basal cell carcinoma includes a variety of procedures that may be used to remove the skin lesion:
- Surgical excision:
- The lesion and surrounding healthy skin is remove with a scalpel.
- Skin cryosurgery:
- Freezing of the lesion to kill the cancer cells
- Electrodesiccation and curettage:
- Scraping the lesion from the skin, and then burning the surface with an electrified needle
- Moh's micrographic surgery:
- Cells are removed layer by layer, until all the cancer cells are removed.
- Surgical excision for skin cancer
- To remove the cancer from the skin
- Radiation treatment
- Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)
- Topical treatments: may be effective for superficial basal cell carcinomas:
- Laser surgery and methyl aminolevulinate cream (Metvixia)
Basal Cell Cancer Cryosurgery
Cryosurgery for basal cell carcinoma involves freezing the skin cancer cells. A small amount of liquid nitrogen is applied to the surface of the lesion. This approach leaves very little scar, but may need to be repeated several times to remove the entire lesion.
Basal Cell Cancer Curettage
Curettage for basal cell carcinoma is commonly performed by dermatologists in the office. The doctor numbs the skin with a local anesthetic and then uses a spoon shaped instrument called a curette. This device scoops the cancer off the skin while a special needle delivers a weak electric current that stops bleeding. This may result in a flattened white scar after the wound heals.
Basal Cell Cancer Laser Surgery
Some superficial skin cancers can be removed with laser surgery, which uses a focused beam of light to destroy cancer cells. This procedure produces heat, but is less painful than conventional surgery. A medication is applied to the skin, in order to sensitize the cancel cells to the laser light. The cells are destroyed when the laser light causes a chemical reaction with the medication.
Basal Cell Cancer Moh's Surgery
In Moh's micrographic surgery, a local anesthetic is used to remove the skin in layers. The doctor shaves off thin layers of skin and then checks them under the microscope for cancer cells. If the cells look normal, no more skin is removed.
Basal Cell Cancer Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of basal cell carcinoma.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- Is surgery an option for me?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- When can I return to work?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this problem again?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Basal Cell Cancer Specialist
Basal Cell Cancer Surgical Excision
In this procedure, the entire skin lesion is removed, along with an amount of healthy tissue around the cancer. This procedure is performed with a scalpel, after using a local anesthetic to numb the skin.
Depending on the size of the lesion and its location, a simple excision is sometimes performed at the time of skin biopsy. This procedure can be performed on all forms of skin cancer.
Continue to Basal Cell Cancer Home Care
- Bath-Hextall F, Bong J, Perkins W, Williams H. Interventions for basal cell carcinoma of the skin: systematic review. BMJ. 2004 Sep 25;329(7468):705. 
- Christenson LJ, Borrowman TA, et al. Incidence of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas in a population younger than 40 years. JAMA. 2005 Aug 10;294(6):681-90. 
- Netscher DT, Spira M. Basal cell carcinoma: an overview of tumor biology and treatment. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Apr;113(5):74E-94E.