Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most prevalent form of skin cancer, and in fact the most frequently diagnosed form of skin cancer in the United States. We treat dozens of basal cells every month at the Calabasas Dermatology Center.
Millions of people discover they have this condition every year. Fortunately, this type of skin cancer grows slowly and rarely spreads through the body. Quick diagnosis and treatment is important. If left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can penetrate deep into the skin, causing more serious problems.
Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays, such as from the sun or tanning beds. This form of skin cancer can form anywhere on the body. However, it most often forms on areas of the skin that receive heavy sun exposure, including the face, neck, and the back of the hands. It is more common in people over 50. Signs of skin cancer include the following.
If you notice any of these on your body, it is best to contact a board-certified dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.
- A patch of skin that is shiny pink or red and scaly.
- A dome-shaped swelling or sore (can be pink, brown, black, or have normal skin tone) with blood vessels visible. It will grow slowly, bleed easily, and possibly ooze or crust over. It will not heal normally, or will return after healing.
- A scarlike growth that feels hard and waxy, usually yellow or white. These type of growths will usually not produce any unusual sensations. Rarely, they may feel itchy or painful.
Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma
If the doctor determines that your growth is cancerous, there are several skin cancer treatment options available to you. They all can be done in our office under local anesthesia.
- Excision: Cutting away the area of the growth with a pre-determined margin and sending out for pathology afterwards.
- Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and kill the cancer cells.
- Curettage and Electrodessication: The tumor is scraped away, and electricity is used to burn the area to destroy remaining cancer cells. This is repeated for 2-3 cycles.
- Photodynamic therapy: The growth is treated with chemicals and then exposed to a form of light that activates the chemicals to kills cancer cells.
- Mohs surgery: This is a special form of surgery used for skin cancers that are difficult to treat otherwise. A Mohs surgeon will cut away the cancerous growth little by little, using a microscope to search for cancer cells between cuts and preserving unaffected tissue while providing the highest cure rate.
- Medications: Topical creams and oral medications can also be used to fight skin cancer.
- Radiation therapy: Used only in cases where surgery is not an option. It is important to remember that basal cell carcinoma can almost always be cured if it's caught quickly, so don't delay in talking to your doctor if you notice a strange growth on your skin.
Basal Cell Carcinoma at Calabasas Dermatology Center
The team of skin cancer experts at the Calabasas Dermatology Center, under the guidance of award-winning board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hal Weitzbuch, are well-equipped to diagnose and treat any growth you may have, including basal cell carcinoma. Make sure to schedule an appointment right away and not waste time while the cancer grows, which might lead to a larger scar or more difficult treatment.