ZocdocAnswersWill I die if I have basal cell carcinoma?

Question

Will I die if I have basal cell carcinoma?

Doctor said that the weird mole/spot on my face could be basal cell carcinoma. He has to run some tests. It sounds terrible though! Could I die if I have it? What will they do to try and fix it?

Answer

Basal cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer, most of the time caused in older adults after long years of sun exposure. It can, however, also occur in younger people from time to time. Fortunately, basal cell carcinoma is a very slow growing form of cancer, and it very rarely spreads to other parts of the body. This means that, as long as you have the area removed, even if it is cancer, it should be totally curable in most cases. The standard procedure, when your doctor suspects a basal cell carcinoma, is that the area is surgically removed and sent to a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis. Generally, the diagnosis and the treatment are the same, because generally not much more is needed other than removal. The removal of most basal cell carcinomas is very simple and can occur in the office with just some local numbing medication. Larger basal cell carcinomas, or basal cell carcinomas that occur in sensitive cosmetic locations like certain parts of the face are best removed by someone with a lot of skill, such as a plastic surgeon, so that the cosmetic outcome is excellent. Other, more simple cases, can be handled by a primary care doctor. Talk to a doctor soon!

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