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Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of epidermal cancer, affecting more than three-fourths of diagnosed skin cancer patients. About one million U.S. patients are told by their doctor that they have BCC every year. In the past, most patients were middle-aged or older adults. Today, younger people also suffer with BCC. This form of cancer often appears on body parts exposed to sunlight, such as the face, scalp, or neck.

Although Basal Cell Carcinoma typically grows slowly, someone who’s had this type of epidermal cancer is at higher risk for secondary growths. If left untreated, BCC can spread to bone or other tissues. Caucasians and fair-complexioned people are at highest risk. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta is experienced in diagnosing and providing effective BCC treatments. These are usually quite effective if the patient’s skin tumors are detected early.


Ultraviolet light exposure, either from sunlight or tanning beds cause BCC. Squamous cell carcinoma is more directly the result of sunlight than BCC. The incubation period for BCC is approximately ten to twenty years.

Presenting Appearance

BCC often presents as a pearly, or slightly shiny, lesion. The surface is above the skin surface, and blood vessels may appear on top of the lesion. Biopsy is an essential part of BCC treatment, because Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta must diagnose prior to recommending appropriate patient therapies.


BCC’s different types—-including nodular, fibrosing/sclerotic, superficial, fibroepitheioma of Pinkus, and pigmented—-look different:

Nodular BCC: occurs in about sixty percent of cases. The lesions begin as flat, defined spots and may later develop a bump. The middle of the nodular lesion usually collapses, and a raised border results. The majority of these epithelial cancers appear on the face and should be treated as soon as possible to avoid disfiguration.

Fibrosing/Sclerotic: These frequent facial lesions look a little like scars, and may be flat in appearance or depressed.

Superficial: About fifteen percent of cases start as red, scaly patches that are look a lot like eczema or psoriasis. They most frequently appear on patients’ arms, legs, or trunk regions.

Fibroepithelioma of Pinkus:
This unusual BCC form may appear on skin that hasn’t been exposed to sunlight, such as foot soles, groin, or back.

Pigmented: These BCCs look a bit like the nodular variety, but may present some brown/black pigmentation. These are sometimes confused with melanoma.

BCC Evaluation

The type of biopsy is dependent upon the lesion’s depth. The commonly-used shave biopsy is performed with a blade used to shave outer layers of the skin. A deeper skin sample is obtained through punch biopsy. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith first removes tissue for examination. A slide is prepared for the microscope.

BCC Treatment

Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta prescribes treatment based on the lesion type, depth, and location. BCC doesn’t usually metastasize or spread to organs, but it’s important to remove BCC as quickly as possible to prevent growth and scarring. Common treatments may include:

  • Excision (removal) by surgery; or Mohs surgery (used for facial lesions with a diameter
    of two cm or more, e.g. for sclerotic lesions)
  • Curettage/Electrodessication
  • Topical lotions or creams

Failure to treat BCC can allow lesions to grow into the inches. They may rupture and break through the skin, damage other tissues or bones. Patients can lose an ear, nose, or eye as a result of BCC. Because people who develop BCC have an increased chance (about forty percent higher) than someone who’s never had BCC in the past, it’s important to perform self-checks and work closely with a board-certified dermatologist going forward.


Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most commonly presenting form of skin cancer, and it’s the most treatable. Don’t wait, BCC doesn’t go away on its own. Patients in greater Atlanta–including Decatur, North Atlanta, Belvedere Park, GA, Druid Hills, GA, North Druid Hills, GA, Panthersville, GA, Gresham Park, GA, Tucker, GA, Chamblee, GA, Doraville, GA, Redan, GA, East Point, GA, Forest Park, GA, Sandy Springs GA, and throughout the greater Atlanta area—should call Dr. Kathleen J. Smith at 678-904-4932 now.

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