Most basal cell carcinomas may be treated by one of the following methods. The choice of treatment is influenced by:

  • size, location, type, and grade of tumour
  • person’s age and health
  • whether the tumour is primary or has come back after treatment (recurred)
  • availability of the treatment

The following represent the range of treatments of available for basal cell carcinoma:

Curettage and Electrodesiccation (C & E)

  • used for small lesions that are less than 2 cm
  • not used for lesions on areas where the cancer is likely to recur (nose, lips, eyelids, ears, scalp, temple)

Surgery (Wide Excision)

  • the tumour is removed along with a margin of cancer-free skin

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

    • used for all types of basal cell cancers
    • commonly used for:
        – areas that are at high risk of recurrence (eyelids, nose, ears, forehead, scalp), as well as lesions that have already recurred


      • – lesions that are larger than 2 cm, as well as lesions with poorly defined borders


      • – areas where maintaining function and appearance are important


      • – invasive lesions that have spread to underlying cartilage or bone


      • – tumours that have been left untreated for a long time


    • – people with nevus basal cell carcinoma syndrome
  • it involves a meticulous study of tissues removed by a pathologist at the time of surgery

Radiation Therapy

    • used for:
        – small to medium sized primary basal cell carcinoma lesions


      • – ensuring cancer free margins after surgery


      • – lesions that have recurred after surgery


      • – relief or to control symptoms of very large tumours


      • – people who are unable or unwilling to undergo surgery
    • not used for:
        – people with nevus basal cell carcinoma syndrome


    • – sclerosing or morpheaform Basal Cell Carcinoma


    • topical chemotherapy (5-Fluorouracil (5-FU)) may be used for:
        – superficial tumours


      • – people who are unwilling or unable to undergo surgery or radiation


      • – people with nevus basal cell carcinoma syndrome


    • – the elderly who can’t tolerate other treatments
  • systemic chemotherapy may be used for basal cell carcinoma that has spread to other parts of the body

Immune Response Modifiers

    • Imiquimod 5% Cream (Aldara™) has recently been approved in Canada and the US to treat Superficial Basal Cell Cancer (sBCC)
        – Imiquimod’s novel mechanism of action stimulates the body’s own natural defenses to target diseased tissue


    • – It stimulates the innate immune response through interferon-a production, as well as acquired immunity by activating T-helper 1 cells
  • Click here to view the A-Detail™ on Aldara™.