18 doctors weighed in:

Can basal cell cancer spread?

18 doctors weighed in
Dr. Margaret Mann
Dermatology
6 doctors agree

In brief: Yes, but unlikely

Basal cell cancers (bcc) are the most common type of cancer on the skin.
While they can grow aggressively locally if neglected, they are very unlikely to spread elsewhere in the body. Most bccs can be treated with surgery, curretting, and certain ones can even be treated with a cream. Larger bccs and those in sensitive areas should be treatd by a fellowship trained mohs surgeon.

In brief: Yes, but unlikely

Basal cell cancers (bcc) are the most common type of cancer on the skin.
While they can grow aggressively locally if neglected, they are very unlikely to spread elsewhere in the body. Most bccs can be treated with surgery, curretting, and certain ones can even be treated with a cream. Larger bccs and those in sensitive areas should be treatd by a fellowship trained mohs surgeon.
Dr. Margaret Mann
Dr. Margaret Mann
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Dr. David Sherris
Facial Plastic Surgery
5 doctors agree

In brief: Yes

It is important to treat them early to avoid more complicated treatment.
Mohs surgery has a 97%cure rate.

In brief: Yes

It is important to treat them early to avoid more complicated treatment.
Mohs surgery has a 97%cure rate.
Dr. David Sherris
Dr. David Sherris
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1 comment
Dr. Gurmukh Singh
It is important to remove the lesion as early as possible to prevent local damage.
Dr. Matheson Harris
Ophthalmology
4 doctors agree

In brief: Yes

Basal cell cancer spreads locally, invading and destroying tissues as it moves.
It does not generally metastasize to remote parts of the body.

In brief: Yes

Basal cell cancer spreads locally, invading and destroying tissues as it moves.
It does not generally metastasize to remote parts of the body.
Dr. Matheson Harris
Dr. Matheson Harris
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Dr. Mike Bowman
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
4 doctors agree

In brief: Yes, but...

Like all cancers, basal cell cancers grow progressively with time, and will spread and invade nearby tissues.
The good news with basal cell cancers, is that it is extremely rare for them to metastasize to lymph nodes or or distant sites. If the primary tumor is completely removed, it should be cured.

In brief: Yes, but...

Like all cancers, basal cell cancers grow progressively with time, and will spread and invade nearby tissues.
The good news with basal cell cancers, is that it is extremely rare for them to metastasize to lymph nodes or or distant sites. If the primary tumor is completely removed, it should be cured.
Dr. Mike Bowman
Dr. Mike Bowman
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1 comment
Dr. Michael Thompson
BCC metastasis is rare, but BCCs are common, so there are people with spread (met) BCC. Recently, vismodegib (GDC-0449), a hedgehog pathway inhibitor, was found to be effective in shrinking advanced invasive or metastatic BCCs. http://www.tgen.org/news/index.cfm?newsid=1946
Dr. Morris Westfried
Dermatology
3 doctors agree

In brief: Locally

There are a few people who are usually older or have a poor immune system, but typically basal cell carcinomas are locally invasive.
There are areas such as the eyelid, inside the ear, and nose where you have to be careful to adequately treat basal cell carcinomas with mohs surgery to totally remove the cancer.

In brief: Locally

There are a few people who are usually older or have a poor immune system, but typically basal cell carcinomas are locally invasive.
There are areas such as the eyelid, inside the ear, and nose where you have to be careful to adequately treat basal cell carcinomas with mohs surgery to totally remove the cancer.
Dr. Morris Westfried
Dr. Morris Westfried
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Dr. M. Christine Lee
Dermatology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Yes

Basal cell can continue to spread locally and be destructive if it's not completely removed.
It rarely metastasizes and is fatal (unlike squamous cell or melanoma). But it can cause deformities or loss of function (ie: blindness if around the eyes), hearing loss or loss of use of a joint or digit if not treated in time. There are slow growing and aggressive tumor so difficult to predict behavior.

In brief: Yes

Basal cell can continue to spread locally and be destructive if it's not completely removed.
It rarely metastasizes and is fatal (unlike squamous cell or melanoma). But it can cause deformities or loss of function (ie: blindness if around the eyes), hearing loss or loss of use of a joint or digit if not treated in time. There are slow growing and aggressive tumor so difficult to predict behavior.
Dr. M. Christine Lee
Dr. M. Christine Lee
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Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Yes

Every once in a while, it spreads to a remote site.
However, you might do well to find some pictures of what an untreated, neglected basal cell carcinoma will do locally. Lost / mutilated eyes, lost / mutilated noses, and ulcers opening right into the brain are avoidable if you're treated promptly. Congratulations on finding it -- and good luck with your treatment.

In brief: Yes

Every once in a while, it spreads to a remote site.
However, you might do well to find some pictures of what an untreated, neglected basal cell carcinoma will do locally. Lost / mutilated eyes, lost / mutilated noses, and ulcers opening right into the brain are avoidable if you're treated promptly. Congratulations on finding it -- and good luck with your treatment.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Dr. Ed Friedlander
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