What is Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

It is the commonest type of non-melanoma skin cancer worldwide, usually beginning in later life. BCCs can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on areas that are exposed to the sun such as your face, head and neck, and ears and most commonly in fair-skinned people who tend to burn in the sun. Thinning of the ozone and increased travel to sunny climates may be contributing factors.

It may take many years before BCCs appear and they gradually grow, the surface may become broken and frequently forms a small ulcer. If left for many years they can become large, but they do not spread to other parts of the body (metastasis) and are more of a nuisance than a threat to one’s health. Large or neglected BCCs are capable of extensive local destruction and invasion (“rodent” ulcer) may damage nearby features, such as the eyelid or nose – gnawing their way through skin, muscle, bone.


Surgical wide local excision, this is highly effective for BCC. For well-defined BCC <2cm, excision margins of 4mm will result in a 95% clearance rate. BCC >2 cm may require wider margins to effect clearance. Recurrent BCC requires wider excisional surgery.

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