Current modalities and new advances in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma

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Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is one of the most common cancers. Surgical extirpation is currently the standard of care for BCC, which is associated with several advantages and disadvantages. Procedures such as surgical excision used to treat superficial BCC (sBCC) and nodular BCC (nBCC) may have high 5-year recurrence rates if tumors are not completely excised. Curettage with electrodesiccation is a common method for treating primary BCC. However, multiple cycles are recommended and the procedure can have unsatisfactory cosmetic results (e.g. scarring and hypopigmentation). Mohs micrographic surgery has a low rate of disease recurrence but is a specialized procedure usually limited to specific indications (e.g. high-risk tumors). Cryosurgery and photodynamic therapy require multiple cycles and are associated with variable cosmetic outcomes and recurrence rates. As with any procedure, potential risks and patient quality-of-life issues need to be considered. In addition, substantial patient and healthcare provider inconvenience limit the practical utility of some modalities. Pharmacologic interventions provide another treatment option as adjunctive or monotherapy. Investigations of imiquimod, a novel immune response modifier, have indicated that this topical, noninvasive agent is safe and well tolerated and may be efficacious in the treatment of BCC. This review will highlight the role of standard treatment modalities and introduce new advances in the treatment of BCC.

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