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Basal Cell Cancer Treatment

Treatment Considerations Basal Cell Cancer

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

Treatment of Basal Cell Cancer

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

Imiquimod (Aldara)

  • Aldara has recently been approved for the treatment of Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma

More information about Aldara, including how it works and clinical results.

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

Mohs Micrographic 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

Recurrence of Cancer

Recurrence of Cancer