Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting an estimated one in five adults at some point. And more people develop basal cell carcinoma than any other type. This slow-growing form of skin cancer has a very high cure rate if it doesn’t spread, but those cancerous cells can return.
At the practice of Ali Hendi, MD, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Dr. Hendi and our team of skin cancer specialists diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma.
Here, we explore more about basal cell carcinoma, including what you should keep in mind about potential recurrence.
Basal cell carcinoma basics
Basal cell carcinoma occurs when basal cells within your skin become malignant. It often shows up as a pink, waxy bump on an area of your skin that’s frequently exposed to the sun, such as your face or neck.
Traditional treatment for basal cell carcinoma often includes surgical excision to remove all of the cancer, as well as some amount of healthy surrounding tissue. However, at the office of Ali Hendi, MD, we specialize in Mohs surgery, which allows for more meticulous examination and removal of cancerous cells. This advanced method allows us to preserve as much healthy skin as possible.
Other potential treatments include freezing or scraping away the mole, radiation therapy, topical creams, and photodynamic therapy.
When basal cell carcinoma returns
Even when basal cell carcinoma is cured, the chance of getting another BCC in a different location is relatively high. One study showed that the risk of developing this cancer again within three years is about 44%.
For this reason, Dr. Hendi will likely recommend skin cancer surveillance by your primary dermatologist once you’ve been diagnosed the first time. During these 10-15 minute exams, your dermatologist examines your skin, including difficult-to-see places, such as your scalp and buttocks, from head to toe. This allows any early signs of basal cell carcinoma to be detected and treated promptly. Many people benefit from such exams every 6-12 months.
Lowering your risk for skin cancer recurrence
While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid a new basal cell carcinoma, you can take steps to lower your risk. Take special care to protect your skin from UV rays, for example, by wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen or sun-protective clothing any time you go outdoors.
In particular, avoid sun exposure during peak hours, from late morning until late afternoon. And rather than tan in a salon, if you wish for bronzy skin, consider a sunless tanner. Leading a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating a nutritious diet may help as well.
To learn more about basal cell carcinoma recurrence or get the care you need, call 301-259-5710 or book an appointment online with the practice of Ali Hendi, MD, today.