Basal Cell Carcinoma


Basal cell carcinoma is most common type of skin cancer, with more than four million new cases being diagnosed in America every year. Basal cell carcinomas typically appear as open sores, inflamed skin patches, small bumps or raised scars. Usually, the cancer grows very slowly and does not spread. Occasionally, however, basal cell carcinoma can severely damage surrounding skin and muscle tissue.  


Frequent or intense exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds causes most basal cell carcinomas. 

Other Risk Factors

  • Age 40 or older.
  • Fair complexion.
  • Light-colored eyes.
  • Blond or red hair.
  • Family history of basal cell carcinoma.
  • History of blistering sunburns.

Note: Having one or more risk factors does not mean you will get basal cell carcinoma, and many people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors.


  • Dome-shaped skin growth with visible blood vessels.
  • Shiny pink or red patch that is somewhat scaly.
  • Waxy, hard, pale-white or yellow growth that looks like a scar.
  • A sore that bleeds easily, won’t heal or has a crater.


  • Limit your time in the sun and avoid the midday rays (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
  • Use a generous amount of water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps.
  • Wear sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats whenever possible.
  • Check your skin regularly for lumps, bumps or marks.
  • Schedule regular skin-cancer screenings with your dermatologist.


  • Cryotherapy. The most common and effective treatment option, cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen to destroy visible basal cell carcinoma. Healing after this simple procedure takes only a week or two, and afterward a small white mark may remain.
  • Excision. Considered to be the most effective treatment for squamous cell carcinoma, this procedure involves numbing and surgically removing the growth during an office visit that lasts approximately 20 minutes.
  • Electrodesiccation and Curettage. This option consists of numbing the abnormal tissue and scraping it away with a special tool. The doctor may need to repeat the procedure, which typically takes only 5 minutes. A small white mark may remain.
  • Intralesional and/or Topical Chemotherapy. Various chemotherapeutic drugs can be using either topically or injected into the skin cancer to destroy the cancerous cells.
  • Topical Immunotherapy. This treatment helps use your body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells.
  • Mohs micrographic surgery, which allows a doctor to see where the cancer stops. Dr. Amy Watson at Pensacola Dermatology does not provide this type of surgery but can refer her patients to a doctor who does.

Monthly skin-cancer self-examinations are important precautionary measures, but nothing can replace a complete skin exam by your doctor. The medical professionals at Pensacola Dermatology can diagnose any skin-related issues, including squamous cell carcinoma. Schedule an appointment with Pensacola Dermatology so we can address your individual needs.

Basal cell carcinoma | American Academy of Dermatology. (2018). Retrieved 21 December 2018, from

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