Bahr Dermatology


What Is Basal Cell Cancer?

Basal cell skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide, with about 3 million cases in the U.S. each year.  Basal cell carcinoma is most common in those over 50, with blond or red hair, light colored eyes, and fair skin, but can happen in anyone. More cases are diagnosed each year in young people, particularly those who have had a lot of sun exposure. The good news is, nearly all of these cases are cured with treatment, and we offer several treatments here at Bahr Dermatology in Bountiful.

What Does Basal Cell Cancer Look Like?

Basal Cell Carcinoma will usually look like a pink or “pearly” bump on the skin, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a spot that bleeds easily. It is most commonly found on the head and neck, arms, or upper chest or back. If not caught early, this cancer can grow aggressively and can invade muscle, bone, and cartilage. It has more mutations in it than any other cancer and because of this, is usually kept in check by the immune system and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. However, when basal cell cancer does spread, it can be quite fatal, with an average survival of only 8 months. Because of that and the potential for disfigurement from invasion of local tissues, it is important to find this type of skin cancer and get it treated early.

basal cell carcinoma

What Types Of Treatments Are There For Basal Cell Cancer?

Depending on the size, type, and location of the skin cancer, Dr. Bahr suggests the following treatments:

  • Mohs Surgery: This is a good option for types of Basal Cell Carcinoma that are more aggressive and/or are located on the head, neck, hands, feet, or genitals. Mohs micrographic surgery isa great option because it has a higher cure rate and it spares more healthy tissue, when compared to other types of treatments. Learn More About Mohs...
  • Excision: Surgical removal of the tumor with a small margin of normal skin. Dr. Bahr then sends this sample to a lab to process it and look at it under a microscope to assure that the tumor is fully removed.
  • Electrodessication and Curettage: Sometimes referred to as "scraping and burning," this procedure is short and has no down time.
  • Toopical chemotherapy or topical immunotherapy: This is a good option for tumors that are caught early. This treatment allows a patient to treat themselves at home with a prescription cream.
  • Cryotherapy: This treatment freezes the cancer with liquid nitrogen.

What If Your Basal Cell Cancer Has Already Spread?

This happens so rarely that most dermatologists have never seen a patient whose basal cell skin cancer has spread. If your skin cancer has already spread, other treatments such as radiation therapy, or an oral medication that targets the mutations in this tumor may also be used.

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