BCC is the most common form of skin cancer. It typically forms on sun exposed skin. BCC do not spread to other parts of the body (metastasis) but slowly grow invading into the surrounding skin and any nearby structures. There are different histological (appearance under the microscope) types of BCC; superficial, nodular, infiltrative, sclerosising, micronodular and others. The best treatment option depends on the type of BCC and its location on your body. Treatment options include:
– No treatment- some can be left
– Topical treatment with imiquimod cream
– Photodynamic therapy
– Curettage and cautery
– Excision biopsy
– Mohs micrographic surgery
Whichever treatment you choose, things to consider and to ask your doctor are:
1 – What is the risk of the BCC coming back (recurrence rate)? There is always the small risk of the BCC regrowing. This risk is higher with some treatments over others.
2 – What type of scar will I have or will I need a skin graft? Some procedures can be performed to leave minimal scarring. Skin grafts are often unsightly, especially on the nose. Ensure your surgeon can offer you a great cosmetic result.
3 – Will I need to have more than one operation to remove my BCC? When a BCC is at risk of incomplete excision you may be told a further procedure is likely. The exception to this is Mohs micrographic surgery where the complete removal of BCC is the norm with the risk of recurrence being a very rare event.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. Unlike basal cell carcinomas, SCCs can spread to other parts of the body. The risk of this occurring depends on several factors; size, its location and its sub-type. SCCs commonly present on sun damaged skin as a tender pink/red lump which may ulcerate. Generally they grow quickly over several weeks. The treatment for SCC is nearly always an operation to have them removed under local anaesthetic.
Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer arising from the pigment producing cells in the skin known as melanocytes. It is the most common cause of skin cancer death worldwide. Prognosis from melanoma is dictated by features established under the microscope (histological parameters) and if there is any evidence it has spread. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and can lead to death. Current treatment options for melanoma that has spread (metastatic melanoma) have improved dramatically over the last 5 years with the advent of immunotherapy medications.