Nobody wants to be diagnosed with skin cancer, but it happens to thousands of people every day. Basal cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer, and treating it can be a challenge—but Mohs micrographic surgery can often be your best bet.
Basal cell carcinoma, or BCC is a very common form of skin cancer that affects more than a million Americans every year. Much like other forms of skin cancer, BCC is usually caused by years and years of accumulated sun damage. Harmful ultraviolet light contained in the sun’s rays can damage skin cells and later lead to the development of cancer. Skin cancer happens when skin cells begin to replicate at an accelerated rate. With basal cell carcinoma, cancer develops in the basal cells, which are the deepest layer of the epidermis. The epidermis is in turn the first layer of your skin. BCC usually shows itself with visual symptoms fairly early on, and fortunately it does not spread quickly. When it comes to your health, skin cancer’s biggest threat is in its ability to spread to other, more vital organs.
BCC lesions have a few different characteristics, and like many skin conditions the symptoms can vary wildly. It can appear anywhere on the body, but it most commonly appears on the scalp, ears, neck, face, and back. Sometimes, a BCC looks like a shiny, translucent bump on the skin. Other times, BCC might show as a slightly raised lesion that’s pink or red. It may appear waxy, almost like a scar in some cases. Regardless of how a BCC appears, your dermatologist can treat it when it’s caught early.
Mohs micrographic surgery is a treatment for skin cancer that has been practiced for almost one hundred years. Mohs surgery involves the removal of skin in layers one by one until cancer cells are no longer detected in a microscope. These layers are very thin, and the procedure can be conducted in your dermatologist’s office without general anesthesia. Most often, only a few stitches are needed to treat the wound. Recovery is not long, and Mohs surgery is incredibly effective at removing all cancerous cells before they have the opportunity to spread.
If you’ve heard of Mohs surgery, you might not have heard about it as a treatment for BCC. Most often, Mohs micrographic surgery is used to treat melanoma, a very aggressive type of skin cancer that can spread very quickly. Since melanoma lesions are small, Mohs surgery is perfect to remove it.
With that said, Mohs micrographic surgery works very well for certain instances of basal cell carcinoma. Since BCCs often crop up on parts of the body where skin is thin, lesions on the scalp, ears, nose and other areas of the face may be best treated by Mohs. Even though BCCs are much larger in size than melanoma, they don’t usually go nearly as deep. Even on widespread BCCs, Mohs is often your best bet. The earlier a BCC is detected the better, and when a BCC is caught early your dermatologist will often suggest Mohs. Odds are, if you’re seeing a dermatologist for frequent skin evaluations and performing frequent self-exams you’re going to catch it early.
If you are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, you should know that Mohs micrographic surgery might be your best bet. If you’re ready to seek treatment for skin cancer or are interested in skin exams from an expert, reach out to the dermatologists you can trust at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
York, ME / Portland, ME - Now Open! / Beverly, MA / Burlington, MA / Gloucester, MA / Haverhill, MA / Hopkinton, MA / Newburyport, MA / North Andover, MA - Mass Ave / North Andover, MA - Turnpike / Marblehead, MA / Salem, MA / Bedford, NH / Concord, NH / Dover, NH / Exeter, NH / Londonderry, NH / Manchester, NH / Portsmouth, NH