Basal-cell carcinoma

Harmless variant skin cancer

Basal-cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can nearly always be cured excellently (almost 100% after treatment). It usually occurs as a skin-coloured little lump, appearing mostly at an older age. It can be treated very well.

The basal-cell carcinoma can heal well because it grows very slowly and only in the upper layer of the skin, and does not develop metastases. This type of skin cancer is very common: around 25,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the Netherlands every year, and around 80% of these involve basal-cell carcinomas.


There are a few important factors that play a role in the development of a basal-cell carcinoma:

  • The amount of sun exposure and sunburns(at a young age)
  • Skin type: a fair skin burns quicker and thus has a bigger risk to develop basal-cell carcinoma


There are various ways to treat basal-cell carcinomas. It varies per individual which treatment is the most effective. The options are:

  • Minor surgical procedure: The basal-cell carcinoma is removed under a local anaesthesia.
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT): The abnormal skin(cells) are destroyed by applying a special cream to the skin which makes the abnormal skin cells extremely sensitive to a certain type of light. As the skin is then exposed to this light, the abnormal skin cells are destroyed.
  • Freezing (cryosurgery): A basal-cell carcinoma is frozen as it is sprayed for a short time (no more than 30 seconds) with liquid nitrogen. Not every basal-cell carcinoma can be treated with this method.
  • Curettage and coagulation: The dermatologist scrapes off the basal cell carcinoma under local anesthesia (curettage). He then burns the spot of the carcinoma away with a special device (coagulation).


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