Basal Cell Skin Cancer

SkinCare in Wellesley, MA

Basal cell skin cancer is the most common, but it is also very treatable. Patients who notice signs of basal cell skin cancer can put their trust in Dr. Rashel Goodkin, an expert dermatologist in the Boston area.

What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It occurs when the basal cells, or cells at the bottom of the epidermis (the top layer of the skin), are abnormal and growth is uncontrolled. Basal cell carcinoma develops slowly, making it quite curable and treatable when diagnosed early.

Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma varies slightly in appearance. Patients may notice open sores, red patches, shiny bumps, pink growths, or a growth with a rolled edge or indentation in the middle. Because there are many types of basal cell carcinoma growths, it’s important for patients to see a qualified dermatologist such as Dr. Goodkin if they notice sores that do not heal quickly, pink spots that do not go away after several weeks, spots that bleed, or other similar symptoms to screen for basal cell carcinoma.

What Causes Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Like most skin cancers, the major cause of basal cell carcinoma is damage to the skin from excess sun exposure or tanning. A personal or family history of skin cancer, fair skin, or chronic infection or skin inflammation are also increased risk factors. Most basal cell carcinoma patients are over the age of fifty, and men are slightly more likely to develop the cancer as well. Younger patients who had much sun exposure can also develop basal cell carcinoma. If you fall into one or more of these categories, it is especially important for you to perform routine self-examinations and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Goodkin if you notice signs of basal cell carcinoma or other skin cancers.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment

If you are suspected to have basal cell carcinoma, Dr. Goodkin will first remove a section of the lesion or spot to test it in a laboratory and make a diagnosis. If this biopsy finds that you do have basal cell carcinoma, the skin cancer cells must then be completely removed. This can be achieved through a surgical excision, in which Dr. Goodkin will remove all skin cancer cells and a small amount of the surrounding healthy skin.

Mohs surgery is also an option, in which the cancer cells are removed layer-by-layer and examined under a microscope, to be sure all skin cancer cells are removed. Other treatment options include scraping the basal cell carcinoma cells away using a curet (curettage), radiation therapy, cryotherapy (freezing using liquid nitrogen), or prescription topical treatments for small or thin basal cell carcinoma.

Finally, photodynamic therapy is an option, which involves applying a photosensitizing topical to the area before exposing it to a light that will destroy cancer cells but leave healthy cells unharmed. It is important to treat basal cell carcinomas as they can destroy surrounding and underlying tissues if the basal cell carcinoma is allowed to grow.

Basal cell cancer can eventually metastasize if neglected. Most patients who have had their basal cell carcinoma treated will do very well and will not develop another basal cell carcinoma. However, patients with a history of basal cell carcinoma should continue to see their dermatologist for regular skin cancer screenings as some of these patients have a higher chance of developing another basal cell carcinoma.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Goodkin, call 781.227.7977 or request your appointment through our online form.