Poole Dermatology

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Health Tips from Poole Dermatology

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Treatment

by Jeffrey C. Poole, MD

Topical therapies, such as imiquimod and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), may be prescribed for the treatment of certain types of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs).

Ingenol mebutate (Picato® Gel), another topical medication, may also be prescribed for the treatment of BCC. Although this use is "off-label" (meaning the medication was first approved by the FDA for a different medical condition) it may become a leading topical agent in BCC treatment.

Some recent studies have shown very good efficacy using both the pulsed-dye laser and the long-pulsed Alexandrite laser.

Most recently, vismodegib (Erivedge®) became the first systemic agent approved for metastatic or advanced cases of basal cell carcinoma. The approval of this new medication marks a truly exciting time in the field of skin cancer therapy.

The goal of these BCC treatment options is to provide a simpler treatment course, produce less scarring, or provide an effective treatment option for those patients that cannot tolerate or do not desire surgery.

Referral to a Mohs surgeon is generally reserved for high-risk locations (such as the eye, mouth, ears or nose), cosmetically sensitive areas, or for high-risk lesions.

Recurrent skin cancers, especially large lesions, or certain more aggressive sub-types, such as morpheaphorm or sclerosing BCC, are often candidates for Mohs surgery as well.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It usually occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, most often the nose.

Often this cancer appears as a raised bump that looks smooth and pearly. Another type looks like a scar and is flat and firm and may be white, yellow, or waxy.

Basal cell carcinoma may spread to tissues around the cancer, but it usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Appearance of Basal Cell Carcinoma

basal cell carcinoma See larger image

basal cell carcinoma on ear See larger image

Early Detection of Basal Cell Carcinoma (Skin Cancer)

Because basal cell carcinoma can resemble other skin conditions, tell your doctor about unusual skin changes or lesions, especially these:

  • A sore that comes and goes but never completely heals
  • A shiny bump or nodule, especially if it appears pearly or translucent (these can look brown or reddish and resemble a mole)
  • A slightly raised pink growth with a crusted depression in the center, possibly with tiny blood vessels (capillaries) visible on the surface
  • A patch of skin that is red or irritated, especially on the chest, shoulders, or limbs
  • A white or yellow-ish waxy scar with poorly defined borders

Reference: National Cancer Institute

Last updated: February 12, 2016