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For those not familiar with basal cell carcinoma, it is a common form of skin cancer that can develop on any part of the skin frequently exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, such as the back, legs, arms, and face. Also known as basal cell cancer, basal cell carcinoma makes up 8 out of every 10 confirmed cases of skin cancer, according to a study published by the American Cancer Society. Similar to other forms of cancer, basal cell carcinoma occurs when skin cells start to grow out of control. For greater context, healthy skin cells typically grow and divide and then eventually die off after a certain point. Cancerous skin cells, on the other hand, will grow and divide indefinitely.
Is basal cell carcinoma curable?
Basal cell carcinoma is not only treatable but also curable if detected early. According to the Moffitt Cancer Center, the therapies used in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma will typically yield an 85 to 95 percent recurrence-free cure rate for most patients. Of course, this is welcomed news for the more than 4 million people that are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) in the United States every year. Of course, the recurrence-free cure rate for basal cell carcinoma declines significantly the longer individuals go without seeking treatment. To that point, current data shows that approximately 3,000 people in America die every year from complications stemming from untreated basal cell carcinoma.
Physicians with Los Angeles Facial Cosmetic Surgery Discuss Treatments Available to Individuals with BCC
Having detailed the number of people diagnosed with BCC every year as well as the associated cure and death rates, let’s take a look at treatments that physicians with Los Angeles Facial Cosmetic Surgery and others provide to patients with this particular form of skin cancer. First and foremost, most individuals will schedule an appointment with their physician once they notice early signs of BCC. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, BCCs can look like any of the following on one’s skin:
- Open sores
- Red patches
- Pink growths
- Shiny bumps
- Slightly elevated scars or growths
Of course, there are many more skin anomalies that could signify basal cell carcinoma. However, those listed in this article are the ones frequently linked to basal cell carcinoma, according to physicians with Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery Los Angeles Treatment and other practitioners in the Los Angeles County area. That said, many of these same physicians will prescribe electrosurgery or Mohs surgery as a treatment for patients with BCC. And the decision to use one or the other will likely be predicated on how far the patient’s skin cancer has advanced.
Physicians With Mohs Plastic Surgeon Los Angeles Weigh in on the Differences Between Electrosurgery and Mohs Surgery
Electrosurgery – Despite the name, electrosurgery is not quite as invasive as some people might think. This approach to treating and curing basal cell carcinoma entails scraping or shaving off the cancer growths on the skin with what is known as a curette. For reference, a curette is a sharp medical instrument that has a ring-shaped tip attached to it. From there, the physician will use a chemical agent, such as Cisplatin, Busulfan, or Altretamine, for example, to kill off any cancer cells left behind. This procedure, according to several MOHs plastic surgeon Los Angeles physicians, is a go-to for treating patients with early-stage BCC.
Mohs surgery – Slightly more invasive than electrosurgery, Mohs surgery, named after Frederic E. Mohs, MD, is considered by most physicians to be a better choice for resolving tumors related to basal cell carcinoma. It is worth noting that the surgical procedure causes very little damage to nearby healthy skin tissue. To begin, the physician will cut away the tumor and a small amount of the tissue that surrounds it. That tissue is then examined by a lab technician who will determine whether or not it contains cancer cells. If cancerous cells are present, the physician will cut away more of the surrounding tissue to ensure the patient is cancer-free and to reduce the risk of a recurrence.
It is worth noting that radiation therapy and cryosurgery are also treatment options that many physicians will recommend to patients with BCC.
What Happens If Basal Cell Carcinoma Goes Untreated?
If there is a silver lining associated with being diagnosed with BCC, it would be that it is one of only a few cancers that seldom metastasizes to other organs in the body and is rarely fatal. However, complications can occur if individuals do not seek prompt medical treatment. According to most dermatologists and oncologists with top-tier medical practices, such as Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery Los Angeles and Facial Reconstruction Surgery Los Angeles, untreated basal cell carcinoma can give way to large tumors. These tumors can become deeply embedded in the skin and can damage skin tissue as well as bones, all of which can result in disfigurement. Also, if they grow too large, these tumors can put a strain on certain organs in the body, which can put one’s life in danger.
What You Should Know About Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms
When it comes to basal cell carcinoma symptoms, they can vary significantly from one person to the next, according to physicians with Facial Reconstruction Surgery Los Angeles and many other practitioners in the Los Angeles County area. For example, skin anomalies tend to appear darker in dark-skinned individuals compared to those who are fair-skinned. Additionally, some people with basal cell carcinoma will experience oozing, bleeding, or crusting of the skin while others will not. That said, it is best to avoid self-diagnosis and seek medical treatment if you notice any changes in the appearance of your skin. And this is true even if they are small changes.
In summary, basal cell carcinoma is treatable and curable. However, putting off treatment can quickly make a bad problem even worse. That said, if you have observed any changes in your skin, big or small, it would be in your best interest to schedule an appointment with a physician as soon as possible.