Identifying and treating a basal cell carcinoma

It can be difficult identifying different forms of skin cancer, as many appear to be quite similar in appearance. With this in mind, it’s important to understand the characteristics of a basal cell carcinoma in order to receive effective treatment.

What does a basal cell carcinoma look like?

A basal cell carcinoma can take many different forms. They can develop as pearly white, skin-coloured, or pink translucent bumps. It’s common to see blood vessels in these growths, even when they develop on darker skin. Basal cell carcinomas can also appear brown, black or blue in colour, and form as a lesion in the skin. They can also take the shape of white, waxy-like scars, and flat, scaly reddish patches. Basal cell carcinomas tend to develop in sun-exposed parts of the body, like the face, ears, and neck. Though, they can also develop in covered areas, like on and around the genitals.

Treatment options for a basal cell carcinoma

As with other skin cancers, if a basal cell carcinoma gets detected early, treatment plans are usually effective in completely curing the patient of the disease. Though, if left untreated, a basal cell carcinoma can become disfiguring and potentially life-threatening. Medical specialists advise a treatment plan depending on the specific case, and typically conduct one or several of the following procedures:

  • Electrosurgery
  • Mohs surgery
  • Excisional surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Cryosurgery
  • Laser surgery
  • Topical medications
  • Oral medication administration

Electrosurgery: Curettage and Electrodesiccation

A common treatment for low-risk basal cell carcinomas, curettage and electrodesiccation are particularly effective for treating skin cancer on the trunk and lower limbs. The surgery involves the application of local anaesthetic and scraping of the cancerous tissue with a curette. After tissue removal, the surgeon controls the bleeding with an electric needle. This technique also eliminates any remaining cancer cells around the edge of the extraction site. The subsequent wound typically heals within a few weeks. 

Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery is a common treatment for high-risk basal cell carcinomas. This type of surgery involves a layer by layer extraction of the cancerous tissue, and the mapping and freezing of each layer. The surgeon inspects the layer of skin under the microscope for the presence of cancer cells before moving on to the next. This highly detailed procedure ensures the removal of all cancerous tissue and has the highest cure rate of all skin cancer treatments. 

Basal cell carcinoma assessments

If you suspect that you may have a basal cell carcinoma, or another type of skin cancer, don’t ignore it. Get in touch with us so we can arrange a skin assessment with Dr Noks. If necessary, the doctor will advise a course of treatment suited to your skin type and prognosis.