Video Production by Josh Melendez

This video discusses the basal cell skin cancer and its different levels as well as treatment options.

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Video Transcript:

Today’s video we’re going to talk about basal-cell cancers, and basal-cell cancers are the most common type of cancer out there. In fact, there’s more basal-cell cancers than all the other cancers combined.

Now while basal-cell cancers have a very low chance of spreading internally, spreading to other organs, what we call metastasizing, they are still cancers and they still need to be respected and dealt with promptly. Because basal-cell cancers will get more and more locally destructive, and wreak havoc on the area in which it’s growing.

So, basal-cell cancers are formed from chronic UV damage that accumulates over a lifetime. And once you’ve had one basal-cell cancer, you have an increased chance of having more types of skin cancer, so it’s vitally important that you look yourself over every month to make sure that nothing is new, changing, growing or simply not healing. One of the biggest signs of a basal-cell cancer on your skin is a spot that you think is a pimple, but that pimple simply won’t go away. In other words, all of us get pimples from time to time, but these guys heal within a week or two. If you have a pimple that lasts for 3, 4, 5 months, it’s probably not a pimple, and you really need to see a dermatologist to figure out what is going on with that area.

So after we biopsy something that’s concerning, and it comes back as a basal-cell cancer, the pathology report is going to have some very useful information for all of us to determine the best treatment plan for you. So here’s an example of a superficial basal cell cancer. As you can see, these atypical cells are at the top of the screen and that’s why we can use a procedure that addresses the top of the skin. Because if we can scrape off the top of the skin, and the cancer is really just on the surface of the skin, then it has a reasonable chance of curing the lesion.

Now here’s an example of a basal-cell cancer that has depth to it. And as you can see this cancer’s right in the middle of the collagen. On either side of the cancer, are these strong, (you can think of them as steel structures of collagen) and if we were to just use a procedure that scraped off the top portion of that, we’re not gonna probably be able to get to the depth of the cancer and the treatment is not going to be as effective. So for these basal-cell cancers that have depth to them, we need to treat them with a treatment that addresses the depth, and those are things like excision, Mohs surgery, or perhaps even radiation.

Now to determine the best treatment plan, we take into account lots of factors. Number one, what does it look like under the microscope? So simply on the top portion of the skin or does it look like it has some depth to it? Number two, where on the body is the cancer located, and what are the characteristics of that area of your body. In other words, sometimes one procedure is better in one area, and another procedure is better in a different area. Third, we do look at your age and determine what your risk is in this area for the cancer to return. And we talk about all of these things in the videos below. So we’re gonna talk to you about different procedures, and we’re also going to talk about what to do to prepare for those treatment options. And you can see all this information in the links below, so that when your dermatologist recommends a specific procedure for you, you can go to those videos and determine if those procedures are right for you.

As always, we thank you for allowing us to help you become comfortable in your skin.

Patient: When I got the diagnosis for a basal-cell carcinoma, I was a little bit shocked because I did not think that would ever happen to me. Even though I had not been exactly wise in the sun or tanning beds. I just didn’t ever think I would get the bad news, but yeah, I was devastated, and I did not know what was ahead of me, with procedures or just what my future looks like, as far as skin care.

When they gave me the news they recommended that I have it excised and of course always monitoring coming in every few months. My experience with the procedure was actually very easy, and I was surprised the first day I came in I was sweating, I was nervous, I was upset already, and they were super sweet. They were very, there’s comforting and, reassuring and being poked to get numbed was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be. I really didn’t have any physical discomfort at all, and that after that first procedure, I was, I was good to go.

About the author

Dr. Anderson with Doctors Quarterly Magazine - Cropped
Dr. Reagan Anderson

Dr. Anderson is a Board Certified Dermatologist and Mohs Micrographic Surgeon. He serves as a Clinical Professor of Dermatology and is actively involved in patient and healthcare provider education on dermatology conditions and treatment.

Colorado Dermatology Institute
8580 Scarborough Drive / 1220 Lake Plaza Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado