Finally! A consensus on how basal cell skin cancer should be treated

May 14, 2015 by
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With nearly 3 million new cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed in the U.S. each year, a new set of consensus treatment recommendations couldn’t come at a better time.

The result of this first-ever comprehensive literature review and evaluation of all treatment methods by a panel of expert dermatologic surgeons: surgical options are recommended over a variety of alternatives to completely eliminate BCC tumors.

And of the surgical options, Mohs Micrographic Surgery is the “treatment of choice” – especially for high-risk BCCs and those in cosmetically sensitive locations.

The panel – appointed by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Board of Directors – also found the effectiveness of individual treatments vary according to the cancer size, depth, location and other relevant medical history.

Millions of Americans have a personal stake in the recommendations. BCC is the most common cancer in the U.S. The top risk factor is exposure to UVA or UVB rays – whether from sunlight, tanning booths or UV light therapy. While BCCs rarely spread throughout the body, left untreated they can cause localized tissue destruction, cosmetic deformities and functional disabilities.

Patients with a suspicious lesion are advised to undergo a complete skin examination by a qualified physician because they often have additional cancers or pre-cancers elsewhere and also are at an increased risk for developing malignant melanoma.

The analysis is featured in the May 2015 issue of Dermatology Surgery, the Society’s scientific peer-reviewed journal. The recommendations take into consideration cure rates, recurrence rates, aesthetic and functional outcomes, and cost effectiveness.

“For a given BCC, the cure rate associated with a treatment modality is the key consideration in choosing the most appropriate therapy,” say the authors, citing that Mohs Micrographic Surgery “provides the highest cure rates while maximizing tissue preservation, maintenance of function and cosmesis. … And because it is performed in the office setting, oftentimes with immediate repair, it is highly efficient and cost-effective.”

The authors note that nBCC_Infographic_webon-surgical treatments may be used for low-risk BCCs when surgery is impractical, but the cure rates are lower.

The BCC analysis will be followed in 2015 with similar recommendations for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).


ASDS is the largest specialty organization exclusively representing dermatologic surgeons who have unique training and experience to treat the health, function and beauty of the skin. ASDS members are pioneers in the field. Many are involved in the clinical studies that bring popular treatments to revitalize skin and diminish wrinkles to the forefront. Their work has helped create and enhance many of the devices that remove blemishes, hair and fat, and tighten skin. Dermatologic surgeons are also experts in skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Visit ASDS at:

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