basal cell carcinoma

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(BCC) the commonest form of skin cancer. Although classified as a malignant tumour, it grows very slowly. BCC usually occurs on the central area of the face, especially in fair-skinned people; the prevalence increases greatly with episodes of sunburn. The initial sign is a spot or lump that fails to heal, which slowly enlarges. Treatment depends on subtype and is usually straightforward, e.g. topical chemotherapy agents (such as 5-fluorouracil), curettage and cautery, surgical excision, cryotherapy, or radiotherapy. High-risk BCCs around the eyes or nose may be treated with Mohs’ micrographic surgery to ensure low rates of recurrence and maximal tissue conservation. Only if neglected for decades does a BCC eventually become a so-called rodent ulcer and destroy the surrounding tissue. However, the term ‘rodent ulcer’ is still sometimes used to mean any basal cell carcinoma.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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