Basal cell carcinoma: Tips for managing

If you have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC), your prognosis is excellent. Most BCCs are cured with the prescribed treatment.

Risks

  • It is possible for BCC to recur. These BCCs are almost always cured with additional treatment.
  • People who have had BCC have a higher risk for getting another skin cancer.

To help patients manage these risks, dermatologists recommend the following:

Keep all follow-up appointments with your dermatologist. When found early, skin cancer usually can be cured. Even melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, has a cure rate of nearly 100% when found early and treated.

Perform skin self-exams. Patients who are diagnosed with skin cancer are taught how to examine their skin for signs of skin cancer. Be sure to examine your skin as often as recommended by your dermatologist.

If you see anything on your skin that is growing, bleeding, or in any way changing, immediately call your dermatologist’s office. A change could be an early sign of skin cancer. Found early and treated, skin cancer can be cured.

Protect your skin from the sun and indoor tanning. This is essential to prevent further damage, which can increase the risk of getting another skin cancer. These tips will help you protect your skin:

  • Wear sunscreen and lip balm that offer sun protection. Apply these daily, even in the winter, and be sure to use sunscreen and lip balm that offer: 
    • SPF 30 or higher.
    • Broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection.
    • Water resistance.
  • Apply the sunscreen and lip balm to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors.
  • Apply the sunscreen to every part of your body that will not be covered by clothing.
  • Whenever possible, wear a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and pants.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect the skin around your eyes.
  • Avoid outdoor activities when the sun is strongest — between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Avoid getting a tan and never use a tanning bed or sun lamp.

Related resources:

Learn more about basal cell carcinoma:

References:

Carucci JA, Leffell DJ. “Basal Cell Carcinoma” In: Wolff K et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th edition. USA. McGraw Hill Medical; 2008, p. 1036-42.

Habif TP, Campbell JL, Chapman JGH et al. “Basal cell carcinoma,” In: Dermatology DDxDeck. China; 2006.

Kim RH, Armstrong AW. “Nonmelanoma skin cancer.” Dermatol Clin. 2012 Jan;30(1):125-39. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Situm M et al. “The role of UV radiation in the development of basal cell carcinoma.” Coll Antropol. 2008 Oct;32 Suppl 2:167-70.

Wong CSM et al. “Clinical review: Basal cell carcinoma.” BMJ 2003 Oct 4;327:794-798.

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