Download BCC patient info - Mr Harpreet Ahluwalia

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Basal Cell Carcinoma
What is a basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is also known as a rodent ulcer. It is the most common type of
skin cancer, particularly at risk are fair skinned people and it accounts for about 90-95% of
malignant eyelid cancers.
How do basal cell carcinomas develop?
They start as a skin lesion or sore that does not heal. It can appear as a red and rough
patch, with scabs or ulcer or a small swelling. Basal cell carcinomas grow slowly and very
rarely spread to other parts of the body. However if it is not treated it can grow locally and
destroy the surrounding tissues.
What causes basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell carcinomas are thought to be caused by damage to the skin by ultra violet light
contained in sunlight. Patients who have had prolonged exposure to the sun in the first 20
years of life are more likely to develop basal cell carcinomas in their middle and older age.
Black and brown skinned people are less likely to develop skin cancer because of the
melanin in their skins giving them more protection.
The doctor has said I need to have the basal cell carcinoma removed. What does
this involve?
Surgery is usually undertaken in two stages.
Stage one: The basal cell carcinoma is removed under a local anaesthetic, which means
you would be awake during the operation and an injection would be given to numb the
eyelid. Once the eyelid is numb you should not feel any discomfort however you will still
feel some touching or pulling sensations. The carcinoma is removed and a dressing is
applied over the eye and you would then be allowed home. You must not remove the
dressing, it should be left in place until stage 2 (1-8 days).
Stage two: This takes place usually 1-7 days after stage one and is usually under
general anaesthetic or sometimes local anaesthetic (numbing injection). As long as all of
the cancer has been removed the surgery would involve reconstruction of the eyelid.
Following surgery you would probably stay overnight unless you had care at home to look
after you following a general anaesthetic. A dressing would be applied and must be left in
place for a further 2-7 days. While having the dressings in place you are not allowed to
drive. Have a supply of painkillers if you require them such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen.
Follow up
This usually takes place 5-7 days after stage two. The dressing is removed and the
specialist will review you. Antibiotic ointment is prescribed to be applied over the area for
a number of days/weeks.
If you have any problems following surgery:
Do not hesitate to get back in touch:
Mr H Ahluwalia 02476 966506
Preventing further skin cancers
 Protect yourself from the sun.
 Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect the face and neck and protective clothing when
 Never allow your skin to burn.
 Use high factor sunscreen (30 spf or above) and re-apply every 2-3 hours, or more
frequently if swimming or perspiring.
 Avoid exposure to the sun during the hottest part of the day.
 Always keep babies and children out of strong sunlight and apply sunscreen regularly.
 Examine your skin regularly and seek medical advice for any lesion that does not heal
in six weeks.
Further information:
 Your surgeon Mr Harpreet Ahluwalia.
 Free support and information is available from a cancer specialist nurse in the
Cancerbackup Information Centre based in the main entrance to the University Hospital.
The service is open Monday-Friday 9.00am-4.00pm. Telephone 024 7696 6052. Or
contact the national Cancerbackup Service Freephone 0808 800 1234, open MondayFriday 9.00am-7.00pm.
 Wessex Cancer Trust. Telephone 01722 415071