Diagnosis, Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Gideon Anderson

According to the American Cancer Society (ACA), 8 out of 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC). People who freckle or burn easily or have very light skin, light-colored eyes, and red or blonde hair have a higher risk of developing BCC.

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) often appears as small pink or red bumps with a pearly or waxy appearance. It is a tumor of the basal cells of the epidermis, usually found in the face, ears, neck, and back of hands. It grows slowly, flat or raised with a central depression. It may develop into large masses up to several centimeters over time.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer in humans, particularly fair-skinned people. It usually arises from sun-damaged or non-damaged skin, mostly in older men. If an individual is more exposed to the sun, the higher their risk of developing BCC.

Basal cell carcinomas are rarely fatal if treated early. Though it’s uncommon, BCC can spread to other body parts if neglected, called melanomas. If your situation requires surgery, it’s important to look for reputable clinics, like Toronto Minor Surgery Center (TMSC) – the best skin surgery center in Toronto.

BCC Diagnosis

BCC can be diagnosed by initially observing changes in lesions such as surface ulcers, bleeding, itching, or scaling with possible involvement of underlying cartilage. If your doctor diagnoses the lesion as a tumor, further tests are required to assess the overall extent of disease and degree of malignancy. 

In most cases, your doctor’s physical skin examination is sufficient to identify whether a lesion requires removal. However, further tests are needed if there is any doubt or concern over malignancy, such as biopsy.

A biopsy, including a margin of normal tissue, should be performed to determine the type and grade of the tumor. The grading system for BCCs depends on the location of the tumor:

  • Superficial. Cancer found only in the epidermis
  • Nodular. Cancer found up to but not through the papillary dermis
  • Infiltrative. Cancer has reached levels considered deeper than nodular
  • Morpheaform. Tumors show basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma features, resulting from a fusion between genetically distinct epithelial and mesenchymal cells.

BCC Treatment and Recovery

Basal cell carcinoma treatment often focuses on destroying the cancer cells through medical means rather than surgically eliminating them since they do not usually invade structures and metastasize (or travel to other regions). 

If you experience any pain or tenderness (like a lump), you should consult your physician immediately. They may recommend treatments, such as dermabrasion, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, and photodynamic therapy. Cryotherapy is the process of freezing cancer cells utilizing liquid nitrogen, while photodynamic therapy is a treatment that causes localized damage to cells through exposure to certain types of light. 

Surgery is necessary if there’s a risk of contamination or infection. However, your doctors may wait for the area to heal before performing the procedure to prevent infection or other complications. It’s because these cancers are also slow-growing, so they’ll take months before spreading out of control. 

TMSC also performs other minor surgeries, such as earlobe correction surgery, lipoma removal, sebaceous cyst removal, mole surgery and removal, etc.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Recovery

The recovery period depends on how your body responds to your basal cell carcinoma treatment. Be aware that it’s normal to experience redness (erythema), edema (swelling), and blistering at first. But these symptoms will go away as you continue with your recovery. If you have photodynamic therapy, signs of skin irritation should subside within 10-14 days after your last session.

It may take several more weeks before complete recovery (until the skin doesn’t feel warm). Some people choose to wear sunscreen during this period since sun exposure can exacerbate the symptoms. 

If surgery is the proper treatment based on your situation, your doctor may put you under general anesthesia. The procedure takes approximately 30-60 minutes and requires stitches (or skin glue) to stop any bleeding, but these will dissolve on their own over time. 

You should rest for a few days after returning home, with some physicians recommending complete bed rest for 24 hours. Patients who have had radiation therapy may need less rest time since there’s no risk of infection or pain after recovering from anesthesia. If you’re worried about scars after the surgery or other types of scar removal services, you can also contact Toronto Minor Surgery Center for keloid scar treatment at TMSC.