Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Nonmelanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the most common types of cancer worldwide. Nevertheless, it is a good thing because compared to other types of cancer they are easy to cure, at least when the tumors are light and small. There are many types of treatment and the right type of treatment must be determined by the size of the cancer tumor and its position. Here is an overview of some of the most common options.

• Excision

Simple surgical excision is used to treat primary tumors and recurrent ones. The procedure involves surgically removing the tumor and a certain amount of normal-appearing skin surrounding it, this portion is also called the margin. For basal cells or cells that appear squamous, margins are often 2 to 4 mm. The cure rates following the excising are about 95% percent and 92% for primary BCC and SCC, respectively, and are dependent on the site, size and pattern of the tumor. Excision should be performed depending on the extent of the cancer.

• Topical Creams

Since its approval in 2004, the immune system activator imiquimod (also known by the brand name Aldara) has been a commonly prescribed topical (skin only) cream for small superficial and nodular basal cell carcinomas as well as a pre-cancerous condition which is called actinic keratosis. The solution is spread on the lesion five times per weeks, usually for six weeks, and completely clears the skin in about 88% of patients or more, depending on the exact type of cancer. Another cream for superficial BBC is 5-fluorouracil (Carac or Efudex), a chemotherapy drug that is also used intravenously. These treatments usually do not leave any scars, but there can be terribile pain and swelling. Several other creams are being tested now, which include ingenol mebutate (PEP005), which is derived from a plant called the “petty spurge”.

• Curettage and Electrodesiccation

It is a very simple and effective method of destroying small basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. After scraping away the growth with a spoon-like instrument, which is called a curette, a physician uses a mild electric current to destroy any remaining abnormal cells. This scraping and cauterizing process is typically repeated three times, and the wound tends to heal without any stitches needed. It is good for primary lesions. The cure rates depend very much on the location: high-risk locations (nose, ear, chin, mouth) have a recurrence rate of 4% to 18%, depending on the tumor size. Recurrence rates decrease to 3% for tumors at low-risk sites of the trunk and extremities. Overall, the 5-year cure rates for primary BCC and SCC treated with C and E are 92% and 96%, respectively.

• What is Mohs Surgery?

The Mohs procedure (also known as Mohs micrographic surgery or margin-controlled excision) is an advanced technique developed in the 1940s by Dr Frederic E. Mohs for removing lesions due to basal or squamous cell carcinoma. It involves removing thin sections of the skin growth, layer by layer. Each layer is then examined under the microscope, and removal of layers continues until no cancerous cells remain. It has the lowest risk rate overall, and does not cause as much scarring as the other methods. It is especially useful for treating recurring skin cancer, large tumors, tumors on the ear, eyelid, nose, lip or hand, tumors in sites prone to recurrence and the sclerotic subtype of basal cell carcinoma. It is however, the best type of treatment: The 5-year recurrence rate is 1% for BCC and 3% for SCC. However, it is more costly, time-consuming and labor-intensive than other methods.

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