Treating Basal Cell Carcinoma


Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment

For treating basal cell carcinoma there are several options, the principal treatments are outlined below. After a medical examination, Basal Cell Carcinoma is confirmed by a biopsy.  A local anesthetic is given and a small amount of skin is removed, either by a Shave biopsy or a Punch biopsy and then sent to be examined under a microscope for positive identification by a laboratory.  If it is confirmed that tumor cells are present, treatment is required.  The type of treatment depends on the type of Basal Cell Carcinoma, the location, the depth of the tumor and the patient's health and age.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment includes:


Excisional Surgery  (cutting out the tumor)

Under local anasthetic the surgeon removes the tumor with a margin of healthy skin around the tumor of about four millimeters in order to try and make sure all the cancerous tumor has been removed.  However, sometimes not enough tissue is removed and the tumor reappears later or, too much tissue is removed increasing the chances of disfigurement. This method of treatment is by its nature is invasive, and at times disfiguring.  This straight forward "cutting out" surgery produces cure rates of about 90 percent
Mohs Micrographic Surgery.  (cutting out the tumor more accurately)
Again under local anasthetic the surgeon removes the tumor with a very fine margin of healthy tissue around the edge.  But with Mohs surgery the margin of tissue is immediately checked under a microscope, if there are cancerous cells still present more tissue is removed until the tissue removed contains no cancerous cells.  Again this method of treatment is invasive, and at times disfiguring, but it does have a success rate of 96 to 98 percent.

Radiation Therapy.

X–rays are focused on the tumor several times a week for two to five weeks. X–rays may be used for tumors that are difficult to remove surgically or for elderly patients and patients who have  poor health.  The success rate for radiotherapy is about ninety percent but there are radiation risks and potential long-term cosmetic problems.

Laser Surgery.

If there are multiple tumors or if the basal cell carcinoma is superficial, laser surgery may be an considered.  Lasers for skin cancer vaporize the tissue under local anaesthesia. The destruction caused by the laser, plus the body's immune response to the injury, results in blistering that can take several weeks to heal.

Topical Treatments (creams)

Efudex® is a white coloured cream that contains a chemical called Fluorouracil, and can be used as a basal cell carcinoma treatment. Fluorouracil interferes with skin cell growth, and works by causing the death of cells which are growing fastest, such as abnormal skin cells (Fluorouracil, is also sold under the brand names, Adrucil, Carac, Efudix, and Fluoroplex)
Fluorouracil apart from acting on cancerous tumors also gets absorbed into the body and can be toxic when used to treat large tumors. It is not known whether fluorouracil is excreted in breast milk.
Reported symptoms include:
“Skin irritation, burning, redness, dryness, pain, swelling, tenderness, or changes in skin colour may occur at the site of application. Eye irritation (e.g. stinging, watering), trouble sleeping, irritability, temporary hair loss, or abnormal taste in the mouth may also occur…”
Efudex® has a 93% success rate for superficial Basal Cell Carcinomas.

Aldara® is also a cream used as a Basal Cell Carcinoma treatment and contains a chemical called Imiquimod (the active ingredient) in a concentration of 5%.   Imiquimod is also sold under the brand name Zyclara and contains 3.75% Imiquimod.
The active chemical in Aldara and Zyclara is Imiquimod. When you apply either of these creams to your skin small amounts of Imiquimod may pass into the blood stream and some medicines may interact with the Imiquimod.  It is unknown if Imiquimod is excreted in breast milk.
Reported side effects include:
• Intense local inflammatory reactions can occur (e.g., skin weeping, erosion). Dosing interruption may be required
• Severe local inflammatory reactions of the female external genitalia can lead to severe vulvar swelling. Severe vulvar swelling can lead to urinary retention; dosing should be interrupted or discontinued.
• Flu-like systemic signs and symptoms including malaise, fever, nausea, myalgias and rigors may occur. Dosing interruption may be required
• Avoid exposure to sunlight and sunlamps. Wear sunscreen daily
• Safety and efficacy have not been established for repeat courses of treatment to the same area for AK
• Aldara Cream is not recommended as a basal cell carcinoma treatment for subtypes other than the superficial variant, i.e., sBCC (superficial Basal Cell Carcinomas)
• Treatment of urethral, intra-vaginal, cervical, rectal or intra-anal viral disease is not recommended
• Safety and efficacy in immunosuppressed patients have not been established
In one study I read it was reported that Aldara® has a 94% success rate for superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma treatment.


Curaderm BEC5 is also a cream used to treat superficial Basal Cell Carcinomas, and is made up of 99.8% natural ingredients. The active ingredient in Curaderm BEC5 is 0.005% Solasodine Glycoside which is extracted from Aubergines (Egg plants) and a plant called Devil's Apple (in Latin, Solanum linnaeanum)

Reported side effects include:

The normal reactions seen when applying daily (at least twice) the curaderm BEC5 to the lesion or affected areas are some degree of redness and swelling, tingling sensation or pain which can be experienced for 30-60minutes.The pattern of responses can be anticipated by: reddening, then usually erosion, ulceration and decline of the treated of the unwanted cells followed by the re-growth of the normal skin tissue.(Note: During treatment of the lesions may appear worse than before treatment. That is because BEC seeks and destroys the cancer cells that are non-visible to the naked eye)

Success rate:

Curaderm BEC5 "100% success rate was obtained for 12 weeks treatment under the protocol conditions of the clinical trial. Treated patients were followed-up for over 5 and 10 years post treatment with no recurrences."
Having examined the treatment options, I decided to opt for the Curaderm BEC5