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Basal Cell Carcinoma


If skin cancer is the most common form of human cancer for Americans, then basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer.

Basal cells are those in the deepest skin layers, along with hair follicles and sweat ducts. As a result of overexposure to UVB radiation, your natural repair system is damaged, and basal cell carcinomas develop. These are mostly slow-growing tumors that rarely spread and show themselves in a number of ways:

  • Raised pink or pearly white bump with a pearly edge and small, visible blood vessels.
  • Pigmented bumps that look like moles with a pearly edge.
  • A sore that continuously heals and re-opens.
  • Flat scaly scar with a waxy appearance and blurred edges.

No matter how a cancer appears, it will tend to bleed with little or no cause. Data shows 85 percent of basal cell carcinomas will develop on the face and neck, the areas with the most sun exposure.

Basal cell carcinoma risk factors include: fair skin, sun exposure, age (most skin cancers occur after age 50), exposure to ultraviolet radiation (tanning beds) and therapeutic radiation given to treat an unrelated health issue.

To diagnose basal cell carcinoma, you will need a biopsy/shave — where the entire tumor is removed along with some surrounding tissue, or incisional, where part of the tumor is removed (used primarily for large lesions).

Treatments for basal cell carcinoma include:

  • Cryosurgery — Some basal cell carcinomas respond to cryosurgery, in which liquid nitrogen is used to freeze off the tumor.
  • Curettage and Desiccation — The preferred method of dermatologists, this involves using a small metal instrument (called a curette) to scrape out the tumor along with an application of an electric current into the tissue to kill off remaining cancer cells.
  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery — The preferred method for facial tumors, Mohs Micrographic Surgery combines removal of cancerous tissue with microscopic review while the surgery takes place. By mapping the diseased tissue layer by layer, less healthy skin is damaged when removing the tumor.
  • Prescription Medicated Creams — These creams can be applied at home. They stimulate the body's natural immune system over the course of weeks.
  • Radiation Therapy — Radiation therapy is used for difficult-to-treat tumors, either because of their location, severity or persistence.
  • Surgical Excision — In this treatment the tumor is surgically removed and stitched up.

New Hampshires leading dermatologists are ready to combat cancer.
Call us today to schedule an appointment at 742-5556.