Basal Cell Carcinoma Help

Updated on October 22, 2013
L.P. asks from Uniontown, PA
8 answers

First, let me say that I am so freaking sick of having moles removed and biopsied.

I am in the highest risk category for skin cancer. Red hair, light eyes, fair skin with freckles, yep, that's me.

Several years ago, after a life of paying little attention to caring for my skin, I went to the dermatologist due to a bleeding mole, which they removed and found it was nothing more than a vascularized mole... but at that visit, they did a body scan, which commenced my current journey down the road of dealing with the potential of skin cancer. Over the last few years, I've had easily 20 or more moles removed and biopsied, many of which had mild dysplasia, five of which had severe dysplasia requiring surgical excision. Oh, the fun.

So at my last visit, they removed a scaly patch, different than the other moles I've had removed, and biopsied that. I knew they were looking for basal cell, since I know that's how it presents, and sure enough, positive.

So, I now have to have yet another surgery on my back, to remove the tissue surrounding this carcinoma. I've been through this kind of surgery five times before, but never for basal cell carcinoma. It's always been for dysplasia.

Can you tell me anything about your experience with basal cell carcinoma? Of course, all these experiences scare the daylights out of me. I am pretty sure that this surgery is all the intervention that this type of skin cancer requires, but I'm still scared. Can you share any experiences with basal cell carcinoma? Please, no horror stories. Can't handle it right now.

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answers from Austin on

Sorry you are having to go through this, it is scary. I was diagnosed about two weeks ago with a malignant melanoma (actual skin cancer) in my right upper arm. My suspicious spot had been there for a couple of years gradually getting bigger and me looking at it thinking I should get it checked and that it's ugly looking, but never realizing or not wanting to realize it could be skin cancer. I have all the risk factors as well, but I was able to get a good tan and in my 20's I loved the tan look so I used tanning beds, tanned outside...I have been sun conscience for years now, but all that tanning and I remember getting multiple sunburns as a child caught up with me! Anyway I actually went into the dermatologist for some brown spots on my face I wanted to get removed and a couple of moles and they asked if I wanted to do a full body check. I showed him the spot on my arm, which he clearly would have seen during the check, and he took one look at it and said I want to biopsy then another smaller spot under my left breast was also done. Waited a week a he called with the results of skin cancer in my right arm, luckily it was "in situ" meaning it had not spread anywhere else and it could just be removed. The other site was just some atypical cells, so no further treatment needed. So I have about a 2 inch scar on my right upper arm and I actually go get me stitches out this morning, yay! It was a major wake up call to pay better attention to myself and that I am in no way immune to cancers and such. Take care of yourself.

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answers from San Francisco on

I had basal cell carcinoma removed on my chest last year. It was pretty small, like a quarter inch, and sounds the same in terms of visuals as yours -- not a mole, I didn't even notice it, scaly patch of raised skin. I am also a very moley person, although most of my moles have not been removed or biopsied as they present fairly normal. I had a patch checked on my foot, which was very hard to heal, but other than that it's been a couple checks here and there over the last 10 years.

They say if you are going to get skin cancer, you want Basal Cell Carcinoma. It's like a small step beyond dysplasia, very superficial and contained. Cutting it off takes care of it, and the only follow up is increased check ups. I am now going every six months. My doctor was pretty calm about it and has reassured me.

I know it's a struggle to deal with the derm so much and have all these moles off and checked and biopsied, but your attention to taking care of your skin means that even if they find something worse (melanoma) you're likely to handle it quickly and thoroughly. It's going to be OK, you're doing great!

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answers from Cumberland on

No horror stories-just God bless you-and keep up with the check ups and procedures-and avoid the sun. Also, there are many foods that boost the health of the skin-walnuts, avacado, mangoes, almonds, cottage cheese, cherries, oysters, flaxseed oil, mushrooms,wheat germ. There is a book of the "150 Healthiest Foods"-it is amazing.

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answers from New York on

Basal cell carcinoma is benign. It's no more of a big deal than the displasia you've had removed. I had it reomoved on my face and if you have a good surgeon you can even avoid a scar. The cancer that's mnore sacry - but still treatable is squamous cell - or melanoma - which is the most serious of skin cancers - but still highly treatable if detected early.

Good luck mama!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

my mom had a couple of them removed from her face and it wasn't a big deal at all and they didn't come back. good luck. Hope it is quick and painless.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I hear you! I am fair, red headed, frecked and with gree eyes and I was growing up there was no sunscreen...just baby oil at the beach. I have had four basal cell carcinomas and two squamous cell carcinomas removed (all on face and arms). Mine were mostly straight forward excisions except for two: one between my lip and nose required a plastic surgeon to make it look like it was in the natural folds, the other on my forehead required mohs surgery where the surgeon goes down layer after layer, confirming with microscope/pathologists, to make sure it was all gone. That one required some creative suture techniques for sure. It was a lot larger below the surface.

I bet you will be fine, you have done this type of thing before. Good Luck!

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answers from Portland on

I've got the same red hair and fair skin, and have about two dozen pre-cancerous patches that I'd do well to have removed, but the procedure has become horribly expensive at local dermatologists, and my ridiculously expensive health insurance won't cover it. So I'm hoping to hold out for Medicare – two more years.

But do ask your doc about freezing them off. It does a remarkably good job if they're not too deep, and on my face and shoulders none so far have left any scars.

There is also a cream which seeks out and kills pre- and early cancerous cells. It's essentially a form of chemotherapy, and I understand it can have you pretty chewed-up looking and uncomfortable (like a bad sunburn) for 2-3 weeks, but then those potential future cancers are gone. I don't know whether this can be used on established cancers, but it would be worth asking.

Good luck.

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answers from Odessa on

I am a 59 year old man, who has had a number of cancers (5) in my last 30 years. My first experience with basal cell was in the early 1980's, when my dermatologist in Ohio noticed a "sore" developing on my neck. Going on the premise I had contracted a fungus from overseas, he provided a topical solution and it went away. 2 months later, it was back and larger, so he tried another topical solution, and again it went away and came back larger in a couple of months. This went on for a little over 18 months, when I heard the "we need to biopsy that, comment." He did, and it came back positive for basal cell carcinoma. Given the length of time elapsed, he then ordered a die contrast CT scan. Results of that and a referral to the Cleveland Clinic. Within 24 hours, I was on a plane headed to Tucson Az VA Hospital with a pretty grim diagnosis. 4 surgeries later, a few chemo treatments and 6 weeks of radiation treatmens (4 years later) and I was finally in remission. My basal cell was not typical. It had run deep, attached itself to my thyroid, wrapped around my carotid artery, and fully involved my parotid gland. What made mine so different, was the primary cancer was deep that had latched onto the basal cell. I had squamous cell deep and basal cell shallow. Never ignore anything on your skin, you just never know, and your health is worth it. I just had a biopsy today on my right forearm. Results not back yet, but this is like nothing new to me. Sick of it all too, but I'm presupposed to cancers and it has all become part of life. Thank God for my wife and daughters who have gone through one tough MD Anderson stay in Houston, and now this. A strong support system is an absolute must.

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