Eight of 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas. This is the most common type of skin cancer and the most common type of cancer in humans. They are usually found in skin exposed to sunlight, like the eyelid, and rarely spread. Left untreated, basal cell skin cancer can cause damage to the delicate eye area.
Making a diagnosis of basal cell skin cancer involves a careful skin examination. We look for spots or bumps that appear abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture. Any suspicious areas can have a tissue sample removed and tested for cancer.
A skin biopsy removes all or part of an abnormal growth from the skin. A pathologist views the growth under a microscope to check for signs of cancer. Types of skin biopsies include:
- Punch biopsy: A special punch biopsy tool is used to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal-looking growth
- Incisional biopsy: A scalpel is used to remove part of a growth
- Excisional biopsy: A scalpel is used to remove the entire growth
Surgery is used 90 percent of the time for basal cell skin cancer of the eye. Basal cell cancers are usually cured with surgical removal, but new cancers may develop. Routine skin checks are done following surgery.
Electrodesiccation and Curettage
During this procedure, a sharp, spoon-shaped instrument called a curette is used to remove the cancer. A needle-shaped electrode is then used to treat the area with an electric current. The current stops the bleeding and destroys cancer cells around the edge of the wound.
Simple excision surgically removes a tumor from the skin, along with some of the normal skin around it.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
This technique offers the most accurate method for completely removing all cancerous tissue. It spares healthy tissue. This surgery treats tumors on or near the nose, eyes, ears, forehead, scalp, fingers, and genital area. It involves cutting the tumor from the skin in thin layers. Each layer removed is viewed under a microscope. When no cancer cells remain, the surgery is completed. Mohs surgery is especially useful in treating large tumors, tumors in certain locations, and those that come back after other treatments. Routinely offered at Sylvester, it is completed in just one office visit, and has a nearly 100 percent cure rate.
This treatment uses a drug and laser light to kill cancer cells. A drug is injected into a vein, but it's not active until it exposed to the laser light. The drug collects more cancer cells than normal cells. For skin cancer, laser light is shined onto the skin. This activates the drug to kill the cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy causes little damage to healthy tissue.
Also called biologic therapy, these medicines use your immune system to fight cancer. Topical imiquimod therapy (a cream applied to the skin) may be used to treat small basal cell carcinomas.
Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?
Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.
Multidisciplinary care teams. A cancer diagnosis deserves comprehensive, compassionate care. That’s why Sylvester and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute partner to deliver precision care. You are evaluated and treated by a spectrum of eye professionals, including experts in ophthalmology, dermatology, ocular oncology, radiation oncology, and pathology.
One of only six designated Cancer Centers of Excellence in Florida. AWe treat cancer, and only cancer, giving you the best potential outcomes. You can be confident knowing you are in the best possible place to treat your cancer in South Florida.
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is the top-rated facility in the country for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Ophthalmic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery experts. With hundreds of ophthalmology experts on our team and operating suites dedicated to eye care, you receive quality care tailored to your condition, no matter how unique or complex.
Leading technology. Sylvester is one of the few institutions that offers reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM), which provides a more accurate diagnosis of lesions that can’t be confirmed with a clinical exam and dermascopy (a magnification device used to diagnose skin lesions).
Questions? We're here to help.
Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.