Basal cell carcinoma is an extremely common type of nonmelanoma skin cancer. It is also responsible for the majority of cancer diagnoses in the United States. As the name suggests, this malignancy originates in the basal cells, which are responsible for producing new skin cells as old cells die off. Unlike other types of cancer, basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads beyond the area in which it originally develops.
Prevention of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Most experts agree that long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight is responsible for basal cell carcinoma, which is why the best way to prevent this disease is to limit your time in the sun and regularly apply sunscreen when you’re outside—even on cloudy days. Here are some other steps you can take:
- Wear protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat when outside.
- Avoid tanning beds at all costs.
- See a dermatologist for a yearly skin check.
- Schedule outdoor activities in the early morning (before 10 a.m.) and evening (after 4 p.m.).
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Approach to Basal Cell Carcinoma
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we take an innovative, multispecialty approach to treating basal cell carcinoma. In our Cutaneous Oncology Program, an experienced team of oncologists (all of whom focus exclusively on the treatment of skin cancer) will review each patient’s needs to determine which therapies would be most suitable. After considering the cellular makeup of the cancer, the patient’s ability to tolerate certain treatments and a number of other unique factors, our tumor board may recommend:
- Surgery – Most basal cell carcinomas can be surgically managed through a traditional excision, but our experienced skin cancer surgeons can also perform more complex operations (e.g. a lymph node resection or a graft reconstruction) if necessary.
- Radiation therapy – Moffitt’s radiation oncologists can devise a treatment plan that delivers the maximum safe dose of ionizing radiation to a cancerous lesion, while minimizing exposure to nearby healthy skin.
- Immunotherapy – Mainly available through clinical trials, these therapies target various molecules in the body (such as the protein interleukin-2) to induce an immune response to the basal cell carcinoma.
Several other treatments, such as adoptive cell therapy and intralesional therapy, are also available through our robust clinical trial program. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are at the forefront of groundbreaking research that not only benefits our patients, but every individual who has been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. Plus, these trials allow us to provide our patients with access to the widest possible range of therapies in one convenient location.