Patients and Visitors
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) also known as a rodent ulcer is the most common form of skin cancer. BCC’s can be cured in almost every case, they grow very slowly and never spread to other areas of the body. Treatment may be more complicated if they have been neglected for a long time. If left untreated BCC’s can disfigure, especially on the face and if they are in an awkward place such as near the eye, nose or ear. Early recognition and treatment are very important.
The most significant risk factor in the development of basal cell carcinoma is long-term exposure to sunlight and episodes of burning in the sun. The risk increases if you have a tendency to freckle and have fair skin. BCC’s usually occur on exposed skin i.e. hands, face, ears, scalp, lips, shoulders and back.
The vast majority of BCC’s can be cured. The treatment options depend on the size, site and number of BCC’s present. Treatment for BCC’s can include curettage (scraping), cryotherapy (freezing), application of a topical chemotherapy cream or photodynamic therapy (PDT) where the lesion is covered with a special cream then exposed to red light. Minor surgery is another option and is usually carried out using a local anaesthetic.
Following removal, the tissue is sent away to be examined under the microscope. It may take up to four weeks for the biopsy results to be ready. It the lesion is completely removed at diagnosis this will mean that no further treatment is required. Occasionally it may be necessary to take more skin to ensure no cancer cells have been left behind.
Following surgery, if all of the cancer has been removed you will not require any other treatment. However, if you have had one BCC it increases the chances that you may develop others. It is important that you check your skin regularly, looking for early warning signs.
Check for any new or existing skin lumps or moles that enlarge, change colour, bleed, itch or fail to heal. Most changes are harmless but they could indicate the start of a skin cancer. See your doctor if in doubt.
The Mustard Tree Macmillan Centre,
Monday – Friday (Drop in)
Tel 01752 763672
Macmillan Cancer Support
Freephone: 0808 808 0000
Marcs Line (Melanoma and Related Cancers of the Skin)
Tel: 01722 415071