Recurrent basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. These cancers develop within the basal cell layer of the skin, in the lowest part of the epidermis.
Patients who have had basal cell carcinoma once have an increased risk of developing a recurrent basal cell cancer. Basal cell cancers may recur in the same location that the original cancer was found or elsewhere in the body. As many as 50 percent of cancer patients are estimated to experience basal cell carcinoma recurrence within five years of the first diagnosis.
Basal cell carcinomas typically grow slowly, and it is rare for them to metastasize or spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. But early detection and treatment are important.
After completing treatment for basal cell carcinoma, it is important to perform regular self-examinations of the skin to look for new symptoms, such as unusual growths or changes in the size, shape or color of an existing spot. Skin cancers typically develop in areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, but they may also develop in areas with no sun exposure. Tell your oncologist or dermatologist about any new symptoms or suspicious changes you may have noticed.
Patients who have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma should be watchful for signs of recurrence, because they are at a higher risk for developing additional skin cancers. It is difficult to determine a patient’s basal cell carcinoma recurrence risk, but recurrence is more likely in patients who:
- Have a history of eczema or dry skin
- Have been exposed to high doses of UV light (such as in tanning beds)
- Had original carcinomas several layers deep in the skin
- Had original carcinomas larger than 2 centimeters
Continued follow-up care is necessary for many years after treatment for basal cell carcinoma. Once your initial cancer treatment is completed, follow-up appointments and self-examinations are strongly recommended to help detect and diagnose skin irregularities.