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What is the Treatment for Basal Cell Carcinoma?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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There are various types of treatments that may be used for a basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of skin cancer. For example, a doctor may remove the cancerous growth using a procedure called curettage and electrodesiccation or via surgical excision. Cryosurgery, which involves freezing the cancerous cells, may provide effective treatment as well. Additionally, a procedure called Mohs' micrographic surgery may be used in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma. No matter what treatment is chosen, however, a doctor’s goal is usually to get rid of the cancer with minimal scarring for the patient.

One type of treatment for basal cell carcinoma is referred to as curettage and electrodesiccation. This procedure involves scooping the tumor out of the patient’s body using a curved medical instrument called a curette. Once the carcinoma has been removed from the skin, the doctor then employs electrodesiccation, which involves the use of an electric current, to help keep the patient’s bleeding to a minimum and destroy any cancerous cells that have been left behind. Usually, a patient will not need stitches after this treatment, and the skin is allowed to complete a natural healing process.

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Sometimes surgical excision is used as a basal cell carcinoma treatment. For this type of treatment, a surgeon cuts the cancer out of the patient's skin and then stitches the wound together for healing. Unfortunately, this treatment for basal cell carcinoma requires the surgeon to remove a significant portion of the patient’s healthy skin tissues as well. As such, it can lead to considerable scarring. Interestingly, surgeons sometimes substitute lasers for scalpels with this type of treatment, which may help reduce the patient's bleeding.

Cryosurgery can also be used as a treatment for basal cell carcinoma. This treatment involves freezing the cancerous tissue with liquid nitrogen. While it can be an effective form of treatment, it is associated with drawn out healing times and the development of scars.

Another effective treatment for basal cell carcinoma is called Mohs' surgery. This technique involves removing the cancerous growth layer by layer. With this procedure, a surgeon examines the tissue he removes from each layer under a microscope. This way, he can make sure he has removed all of the cancer without cutting away a lot of the patient's healthy tissue. For this reason, Mohs' surgery may result in less scarring than a surgical excision.

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