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Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are very common and in fact are the most common cancer but fortunately they tend to be localised.  While they do not spread to other parts of the body but they do need to be treated. Untreated they gradually increase in size and may erode or "gnaw" through underlying structures. Hence they are also known as "rodent" ulcers.

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BCCs may present as non-healing areas or spots, most commonly on the head and neck, but may appear elsewhere. They are usually slow-growing and are characterised by very fine red vessels which run across them called telangiectasia.

The most common form is nodular in appearance. It is described as having pearly, rolled edges and there may be a central ulcer. Alternatively BCCs may look like scars. In the absence of a history of trauma they should raise suspicion.

If you have a suspected BCC your doctor may initially take a sample of the skin (biopsy) under local anaesthetic.

If you have a confirmed BCC, treatment options vary according to the location and type of BCC. These will be discussed with you. Treatment options include standard surgical excision, Moh's micrographic surgery, radiotherapy or if your BCC is superficial in nature it may only require superficial treatment with a cream such as Imiquimod or freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy).

If you have a persistent non-healing lesion, it is advisable to see your doctor.