Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC)? If so, you’re probably wrestling with a mix of feelings. You might be concerned about your health and confused about what you should do next.
While unsettling, BCC is more common than you might think, with millions of Americans receiving the diagnosis each year. Effective treatments are available to restore your health.
At Manhattan Dermatology with offices in Murray Hill and Midtown East, New York City, our team of dedicated and board-certified dermatology providers is here to guide you through understanding basal cell carcinoma and your options for treatment.
We want to ensure you not only receive the best care but also become informed and empowered to make decisions regarding your health. Let’s explore what BCC entails and why treatment is not just beneficial but essential for your overall well-being and health.
Understanding basal cell carcinoma
BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, diagnosed at a high rate every year. Typically developing on areas frequently exposed to the sun, like your face and neck, BCC often appears as a shiny or pearly bump.
Other times it can appear as a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion or a bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and returns. The primary cause of BCC is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, either from sunlight or from tanning beds.
While anyone can develop BCC, some people have a higher risk, including those:
- With fair skin
- With blue or green eyes
- With blonde or red hair
- Over age 50
- With chronic skin inflammation or infections
- With a history of skin cancer
Having a job or hobby in which you spend prolonged hours in the sun also increases your risk.
Treating BCC is essential for your health
Identifying BCC early is crucial, and it begins with annual skin checks. These checks are important since BCC can sometimes resemble noncancerous skin conditions, leading to misdiagnosis or neglect.
Skin checks also allow us to diagnose the disease early, which significantly increases our chances of curing the carcinoma. With early intervention, we can successfully treat and manage most cases of BCC.
If you or someone you love has basal cell carcinoma, don’t avoid treatment. Treatment for BCC isn’t just about taking on the visible lesion — it’s also a preventive measure for your overall health.
Untreated BCC can lead to disfigurement and significant skin damage if it invades surrounding tissues and bones. Plus, while BCC rarely spreads to other body parts, managing it promptly ensures it doesn’t become more dangerous or harder to treat over time.
How we address basal cell carcinoma
Fortunately, you have options when it comes to treating BCC. Depending on the type, size, and location of the carcinoma, as well as your overall health, we may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Topical treatments for very superficial BCCs
- Curettage and electrodesiccation, in which we scrape away cancerous tissue and treat the area with an electric needle to kill any remaining cancer cells
- Radiation therapy as an option if surgery isn't feasible
- Mohs micrographic surgery, which removes skin cancer with minimal scarring
At Manhattan Dermatology, we consider Mohs surgery to be one of the most effective treatments for BCC. Mohs surgery is precise, removing the cancerous tissue while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.
During the procedure, we remove the tumor and a very thin layer of the surrounding tissue. We immediately examine the tissue under a microscope and repeat the process until we find no more cancer cells.
We can use this technique for most cases of BCC. It’s especially useful in addressing BCCs that are large, aggressive, or located in cosmetically sensitive areas, offering a high cure rate while minimizing scarring.
If you’ve been diagnosed with BCC or have noticed any concerning skin changes, don’t wait to schedule an appointment online or by calling our Murray Hill or Midtown East office in Manhattan, New York City.