An estimated 3.6 million cases of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) occur in the United States each year. It’s not only the most common skin cancer, BCC is also the most frequently occurring of all types of the disease.
Despite its prevalence, the BCC story may not be as bad as it first seems. When you visit Advanced Laser and Skin Cancer Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, we can discuss your BCC diagnosis and give you the real picture about your case and its treatment options. You’ll discover there’s plenty of encouraging news about basal cell carcinoma.
Your skin constantly renews itself, and it’s basal cells that generate new skin as old cells die off. As with other cancers, basal cell carcinoma begins with the uncontrolled growth of basal cells. Often, BCC presents as a transparent bump on the skin, usually in places that receive plenty of exposure to the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) light energy is thought to trigger the cell changes that drive BCC.
Perhaps the best news about BCC is its slow rate of growth. It’s not an aggressive form of skin cancer like melanoma, which grows quickly and spreads easily. When caught early, BCC is easy to treat. Chances are good that a BCC lesion won’t cause extensive damage. Many BCC incidents are curable.
Perhaps the best news about BCC is the number of effective treatments available. Let’s take a look at some of these.
Regarded as the gold standard treatment for most BCCs, Mohs micrographic surgery removes layers from a lesion for examination. If cancerous cells are found, we remove additional layers until no cancer cell remains. While it can make for a long appointment, you’re assured that the cancer is gone before you leave. Mohs surgery has a 99% cure rate for BCCs that haven’t been treated before. Our physicians, Dr. Gangaram Ragi and Dr. Henry Heaton, both specialize in Mohs micrographic surgery.
Representing a nonsurgical approach to treating BCC, cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancerous tissue, which is then shed as new, healthy skin grows to repair the surface.
Another technique for removing BCCs uses lasers. Ablative lasers can vaporize cancerous tissue on contact. Nonablative lasers warm up tumor tissue, killing cancer cells with heat. While at the other end of the temperature spectrum, this produces similar results to cryotherapy.
Some BCC lesions lend themselves to excision, the surgical cutting away of tissue. While it’s similar in concept to Mohs surgery, there’s no analysis of tissue for remaining cancer cells, so surrounding healthy tissue gets cut away also as a safety precaution.
There are even emerging immunotherapy treatments for more advanced and spreading BCC cases, though these represent only a small fraction of patients.
While there’s no good cancer diagnosis, your chances of surviving basal cell carcinoma are good. Advanced Laser and Skin Cancer Center can help with skin cancer screenings and BCC treatments. Contact us by phone or online to schedule your appointment today.