Basal Cell Carcinoma


What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer. In fact, every year more people get basal cell carcinoma than any other type of cancer.

When caught early, basal cell carcinoma is highly treatable and rarely fatal. But if left untreated, it can cause serious complications. It may grow deep into the skin, killing nearby tissue and bone. And in rare cases, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Your skin is constantly renewing itself. Every day you shed tens of thousands of dead skin cells. Once they flake off, they are replaced by healthy new cells. This process couldn’t take place without basal cells. However, if cancer invades your basal cells, the cancerous cells multiply instead of dying and flaking off. They can grow into a solid tumor on your skin. 

Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Not all basal cell carcinomas look the same. Signs include:

  • A bump that is somewhat see-through (translucent), skin-colored or pearly white. Sometimes you can see tiny blood vessels inside
  • A flat, reddish patch with raised edges
  • Pale white or yellow colored growths that feel waxy or resemble a scar
  • New bumps that are brown, black, blue or spotted
  • A sore that won’t heal. It may repeatedly ooze, bleed or crust over

You can catch basal cell carcinoma and other skin cancers early by having regular skin exams.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis

Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs on the skin with lots of sun exposure, like the face and neck. But it can occur anywhere on the body.

Your primary care doctor or a dermatologist can check your skin during routine medical visits. They can check areas that are hard for you to see, like your scalp and back.

Between medical exams, you should regularly check your own skin. When you’re familiar with the look and feel of your skin, you can identify new or suspicious changes.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment Options

No matter how treatable cancer is, facing it can still feel overwhelming. You may wonder whether treatment will leave a scar, or if your cancer can come back. Mercy understands your concerns. We’ll make sure you feel comfortable and confident before beginning any treatment.

Your treatment strategy will depend on several factors. These include the size and location of your basal cell carcinoma. Your doctor may recommend you have one or more types of treatment, including:

  • Medication, especially topical creams or ointments
  • Cryotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Surgery to remove the cancer from your skin. Your surgeon will preserve as much healthy skin as possible.
  • Radiation therapy

Your relationship with Mercy won’t end when your treatments end. We’ll continue to watch your skin closely, so you can take your mind off cancer—and turn it back to the people and activities you love.

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