Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the commonest, but mildest, form of skin cancer in Ireland. The commonest areas affected are the exposed areas – the face, neck and back of the hands. It very rarely, if ever, affects the internal organs. It is common in the Irish skin-type but is not a directly inherited disorder.

It is thought that the exposure to sunlight plays a role in its development. This does not necessarily mean repeated sunbathing, but just regular and sustained exposure even to Irish sun, over a number of years. In the very early stages of this condition, it may be possible to treat these with either a specific type of ointment or by freezing them (liquid nitrogen), but treatment is usually by surgical excision.

Mature woman with healing scar 1, 2, 3 weeks and one month after Mohs surgery for Basal Cell Carcinoma

After surgery, the laboratory report gives some indication as to whether recurrence is likely. Further treatemnt may be required if this report states “margins” are not clear. Although it is possible for BCCs to recur after treatment, the majority do not. Any new or persistent abnormality in the region of the scar, in the long term, should be brought to medical attention, as it may need further treatment.

If there has been sun exoposure in the past, it is possible that other BCCs may subsequently develop. This does not mean that the original lesion has “spread”, just that other parts of the body were also exposed to sun. BCCs can occasionally occur in non-sun-exposed parts.