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Skin Cancer

Biopsy for Basal Cell Carcinoma

06/11/2009

Question:

I had small area, about the size of a pea in the fold of my forearm. It was not raised, didn`t have any color. My doctor said it was in an unusual place for a Basal Cell Carcinoma and was almost positive it was not cancer. However he did want to do a biopsy. It was positive and now wants to do surgery. My question is why didn`t he take the whole area out as most Surgeons do so I most likely wouldn`t need surgery?

Answer:

Biopsies are done for diagnosis. Treatment is then based on the diagnosis. If the spot had been benign then you would not have needed any more treatment. Based on the diagnosis your treatment could consist of many different therapies: topical creams, scraping and burning, liquid nitrogen therapy, surgical excision or mohs micrographic surgery. Your statement "why didn't he take the whole area out as most Surgeons do" is incorrect. Most physicians want to know what they are treating so they can recommend the most appropriate therapy.

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Response by:

Jeremy S Bordeaux, MD, MPH Jeremy S Bordeaux, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University