We hope this leaflet will help you understand a little more about this condition. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask the nursing or medical staff. They will be happy to help you.

What is a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?

You have been diagnosed as having a Basal Cell Carcinoma, or BCC. This is sometimes called a Rodent Ulcer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It grows very slowly, mainly on the face and neck, with a raised pearly edge. This condition changes very slowly and is generally thought not to spread to other parts of the body.

If it is left untreated, the BCC will continue to grow. As the BCC becomes larger it will bleed very often and start to destroy surrounding structures, even down to the underlying bone.

A BCC can spread into a surrounding nerve and destroy it. But this is very rare.

What kind of treatment can I expect?

The type of treatment depends on the place on the body that is affected, the size of the affected area, and how you feel about the options that the doctor will discuss with you.

Common treatments include:

  • Surgery under local anaesthetic
  • Treatment with a cold spray of liquid nitrogen (Cryosurgery)
  • Radiotherapy
  • Treatment creams

Risks and Complications

If a specific treatment has been offered, then please read the information leaflet relevant to that treatment. The doctor will discuss any risks or complications associated with this treatment with you. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Is the condition likely to return?

95 per cent of patients need no further treatment but occasionally the condition returns. If the condition returns it would be as a scab or small shiny bump in the scar from the original lesion.

Will I get further problems?

People who have had one BCC could get others. This is not because BCCs spread, but because some people have the type of skin prone to this problem and they may have been exposed to more than the average amount of sunshine.

What do I do now?

The mark left by your treatment will soon settle and you will be left with a scar. You should keep an eye on this scar to look for signs of the problem returning. If you get new scabbing or a shiny bump ask your GP for their opinion and they can send you back to the Dermatology Department for a further examination.

You may get more BCCs and it is important that you keep an eye on the rest of your skin for signs of new ones. If you notice a new mark that does not go away after a few months, ask your GP for their opinion. This is especially important for marks that bleed, itch or are getting bigger. Self assessment is very important because patients are not routinely followed up in the Dermatology Department following treatment of their BCC. This is because the treatment for BCC is very effective and the likelihood of it returning is extremely small.

How can I prevent getting more BCCs?

Protecting yourself from strong sunshine will help prevent your skin from ageing and should reduce the chances of you developing more wrinkles, brown marks, Actinic keratoses and BCCs.

Protection from sunshine means:

  • Stay in the shade 11am-3pm. The sun is most dangerous in the middle of the day, find shade under umbrellas, trees, canopies or indoors
  • Make sure you never burn. Sunburn can double your risk of skin cancer
  • Always cover up. Sunscreen is not enough, wear a t-shirt, a wide brimmed hat and wrap around sunglasses
  • Remember to take extra care with children. Young skin is delicate, keep babies out of the sun around midday
  • Use factor 30+ sunscreen. Apply sunscreen generously 15-30 minutes before you go outside and reapply often
  • Also report mole changes or unusual skin growths promptly to your doctor.

Vitamin D advice

The evidence relating to the health effects of serum Vitamin D levels, sunlight exposure and Vitamin D intake remains inconclusive. Avoiding all sunlight exposure if you suffer from light sensitivity, or to reduce the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers, may be associated with Vitamin D deficiency.

Individuals avoiding all sun exposure should consider having their serum Vitamin D measured. If levels are reduced or deficient they may wish to consider taking supplementary Vitamin D3, 10-25 micrograms per day, and increasing their intake of foods high in Vitamin D such as oily fish, eggs, meat, fortified margarines and cereals. Vitamin D3 supplements are widely available from health food shops.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask a member of the nursing or medical staff, or call the Dermatology/Skin Cancer Specialist Nurse:

Dermatology/Skin Cancer Specialist Nurses
Tel: 01935 384 906

Plastics Secretary
Tel: 01935 384 887

Dermatology Secretary
Tel: 01935 384871

If you have served in the armed forces you may be entitled to access the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. Please call 0800 169 22 77.

Ref: 15-17-109
Review: 11/19