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Basal Cell Carcinoma

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a common skin cancer. The cancer forms in the epidermis (top layer of the skin). BCC grows slowly and rarely spreads.

Basal cell cancer Basal skin cell layer

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

You may have one of the following or other treatments:
  • Surgery:
    • Excision: Your caregiver numbs the area with a shot of local anesthetic and cuts out the tumor. You may get stitches after the tumor is removed.
    • Curettage and electrodessication: After numbing the area, your caregiver scrapes the tumor from your skin. An electric needle burns off any cancer cells that remain. Your caregiver will repeat the process until the cancer is gone.
    • Mohs surgery: This surgery removes only skin with cancer cells, and as little healthy tissue as possible. It is also used for big or deep tumors, and tumors in places that are hard to treat. Medicine is put into your skin around the cancer to make the area numb (lose feeling). This is called local anesthetic. Once your skin is numb, many thin layers of the tumor are scraped off one at a time. Each layer of skin is checked for cancer cells. This is done until the tumor is gone.
    • Cryosurgery: Your caregiver will freeze the tumor with a chemical called liquid nitrogen. This kills the cancer cells. The treated skin may swell or blister.
  • Radiation: Radiation therapy shrinks tumors and kills cancer cells with special x-rays. Caregivers may use this treatment if you are older or have a large tumor. Radiation may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left.

RISKS:

  • A biopsy or surgery can create scars. Your treated skin may be lighter than normal after it heals. Skin may be red, dry, and sore after radiation treatment. . You may need skin grafts or reconstructive surgery after treatment for large cancers. BCC could come back, or you could get a new skin cancer.
  • Without treatment, BCC can spread into surrounding tissues and grow into your muscles and bones.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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