Basal Cell Carcinoma

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), previously known as basal cell epithelioma, is the most common cancer in Humans. BCC mostly arises on sun-damaged skin and rarely develops on the mucous membranes or palms and soles. Basal cell carcinoma is usually a slow-growing tumor for which metastases are rare. Although rarely fatal, BCC can be highly destructive and disfigure local tissues when treatment is inadequate or delayed. On clinical examination, BCC usually appears as flesh- or pink-colored, pearly papules with overlying ulceration or telangiectatic vessels. BCC occurs on the head or neck in the majority of cases, but can involve the trunk and extremities.

More than 26 different subtypes of BCC appear in the literature, but the more common, distinctive, clinicopathologic types include: nodular, micronodular, superficial, morpheaform, infiltrative and fibroepithelial (also known as fibroepithelioma of Pinkus). Combinations of these types can occur as well. The majority of BCCs are amelanotic, but variable amounts of melanin may be present within these tumors.

The current mainstay of BCC treatment involves surgical modalities such as excision, electrodesiccation and curettage (EDC), cryosurgery, and Mohs micrographic surgery. Such methods are typically reserved for localized BCC and offer high 5-year cure rates, generally over 95%.

Publication types

  • Study Guide