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Basal Cell Carcinoma

a) What is basal cell carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the commonest type of skin cancer. The number of BCCs diagnosed is increasing every year due to the hotter summers in the UK and increasing foreign travel. These can grow on the skin of your eyelid. Due to their appearance they are often called ‘rodent ulcers’. They can grow along the eyelid, and if left untreated, can spread into or behind the eye. It is very rare for BCCs to spread around the body and can be cured if removed.

b) What are the symptoms of basal cell carcinoma?

Usually they are painless. They often look like a flat red mark, or have a pearly rim surrounding a crater. Sometimes they can bleed and scab over.

c) Risk Factors Risk factors for this condition include:

• Sun damage

• Fair skin

• Previous basal cell carcinomas

• Open wounds that resist healing

• Exposure to ionising radiation

• Chronic inflammatory skin conditions

d) What tests will I need?

A biopsy may be taken from the affected area. If it is suspected that the BCC has started to spread into the eye or behind the eye, scans may have to be performed. These may include:

• CT scan

• MRI scan

• Ultrasound scan

e) How are basal cell carcinomas treated?

Treatments include:

• Surgery (surgical excision)

• Radiotherapy

• Chemotherapy cream (5 Fluorouracil)

After surgery, the eyelid is reconstructed to make the eyelid appear and function as normal as possible. This may be carried out as a separate operation.