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In most cases, a basal cell carcinoma can be removed with a traditional surgical excision, which involves using a small knife to remove the tumor and some surrounding healthy skin. After the excision is completed, a pathologist will carefully examine the removed tissue for evidence of cancer. Basal cells are found in the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads beyond this area, so this type of excision is usually sufficient.

Mohs micrographic surgery

In some cases- such as where a basal cell carcinoma is especially large, extends into deep layers of the skin, is located on the face or has a higher chance of recurring - Mohs micrographic surgery may be suggested. During this procedure, a surgeon removes multiple layers of skin, one by one, until no evidence of cancer remains. After each layer is removed, a pathologist immediately examines the tissue under a microscope. If cancerous cells are detected, another layer of skin is removed. Mohs surgery is offered in conjunction with the USF Department of Dermatology.

Curettage and electrodessication

Another option for removing a basal cell carcinoma is curettage and electrodessication. This procedure involves using a sharp curette to scrape away the cancerous cells, then using an electrosurgical tool to cauterize the surrounding tissue. Curettage and electrodessication is typically used only for relatively small basal cell carcinomas that have less chance of recurrence.

If you have an unusual skin change, or if you’ve already been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and are seeking a second opinion or treatment, you can rely on Moffitt Cancer Center. Our Cutaneous Oncology Program is renowned for being one of the nation’s top advanced skin cancer programs. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online.