Skin Cancer: Basal Cell

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Basal cell cancer is the most common type of skin cancer and accounts for 90 percent of all the skin cancers diagnosed in the United States according to This form of skin cancer typically does not spread or metastasize but can invade the surround skin causing tissue damage. Basal cell cancer rarely causes disfigurement.

Symptoms and signs of basal cell skin cancer:

The Mayo Clinic describes basal cell cancers as appearing like a pearly or waxy bump or a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion. Medicinenet adds that there may be small, superficial blood vessels called telangiectases covering the skin as well. Basal cell carcinomas typically grow slowly and can take months to years to become large enough to notice.

Diagnosis of basal cell skin cancer is made from a biopsy where the skin sample is examined under a microscope. Your doctor will decide if additional tests are needed.

Risk factors for basal cell cancer are having a fair complexion, being over the age of 50 and having received excess exposure to the sun or UV light from tanning beds. A weakened immune system and exposure to certain medications or substances such as arsenic can make one more susceptible to skin cancer.


Medicinenet reports that there is a 90 percent rate of successful treatment of basal cell skin cancer. There are various methods used to treat basal cell cancer depending on the extent of the skin invasion.

• Curettage and desiccation is a very common method used especially on small cancers in less noticeable areas of the body. Curettage is when the skin lesion is scooped out using a curette and desiccation uses electric current to control bleeding and kill any remaining cancer cells.

• Surgical excision is when the skin cancer requires deeper removal and stitches will need to be used afterwards to close the incision.

• Cryosurgery freezes the growth using liquid nitrogen to kill basal cancer cells.

• Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialized technique where using microscopic examination where only the basal cell carcinoma is removed leaving most of surrounding healthy tissue.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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