Basal Cell and Squamous Cell

Basal Cell and Squamous Cell

Skin cancer is currently one of the most common types of cancers. Today, about 1 in 5 people in the United States will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The good news is, that if detected and treated early, most types of skin cancer have very high cure rates and long-term outcomes. Our practitioners at Nashville Skin are experts in prevention, diagnosis, and skin cancer treatments to give patients the best chance at a cure, whether facing basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma.

The team of board-certified dermatologists at Nashville Skin encourages you to contact us today to schedule your annual skin check or if you suspect you might have skin cancer.

The 2 Most Common Types of Skin Cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and often looks like a pimple that doesn’t go away. BCC may look like a rough, pink spot or even a flesh-colored growth. BCC develop from the skin cells that are found within the basal layer of the skin and can grow in various patterns anywhere on the body.

While basal cell carcinoma tends to grow slowly, some people may have more aggressive growth patterns. However, this type of skin cancer typically won’t spread to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes. If you suspect that you have a basal cell carcinoma, Nashville Skin encourages you to have a consultation with one of our practitioners because it will not resolve on its own if left untreated.

What Causes Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cells are found at the bottom of the epidermis and are responsible for creating new cells when old cells die. When there is a mutation in these cells, it causes them to multiply and grow rapidly. Eventually, these cells will accumulate to form a cancerous sore or lesion.

There are certain factors that increase the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma:

  • Ultraviolet light
  • Chronic sun exposure
  • Radiation therapy
  • Fair skin
  • Sex (men are more likely to develop BCC than women)
  • Age (Most BCCs develop in people over the age of 50)
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Immune-suppressing drugs
  • Exposure to arsenic

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

The second most common type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which affects more than 200,000 Americans each year. SCCs often look like a scaly red spot or lesion that will not heal. SCCs develop from the squamous-type cells found in the skin. Early detection is key when treating SCC because this type of skin cancer grows faster than basal cell carcinoma and has the ability to spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

What Causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma develops when the squamous cells located in the outer layer of the skin develop errors in its DNA. Usually, new cells slough off older cells, but these errors stop this from happening, which causes the cells to grow rapidly, resulting in carcinoma.

The risk factors associated with developing squamous cell carcinoma include:

  • Ultraviolet light
  • Fair skin
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Use of tanning beds
  • History of sunburns
  • Presence of pre-cancerous lesions
  • Personal history of skin cancer
  • Weakened immune system
  • Rare genetic disorders

Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Treatment

Surgical Treatment

With a surgical treatment, the goal is to completely remove the skin cancer. At Nashville Skin, our board-certified dermatologists are experts in several innovative techniques that ensure the best outcomes for our patients, including excision, Mohs surgery, curettage, and electrodesiccation. Our facility is also equipped with a fully accredited Mohs lab in-house in order to provide the most comprehensive and efficient treatment possible for our patients.

Topical Medications

Immunotherapy is cutting-edge technique harnesses the patient’s own immune system to help fight the cancer, using a topical cream called Imiquimod. Additionally, topical medications, such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Carac, Fluoroplex, or Efudex), , Diclofenac gel (Voltaren, Solaraze) Imiquimod cream (Aldara, Zyclara), or Ingenol mebutate gel (Picato) may be recommended, which is applied to the skin to kill the cancer cells in the affected area.


When using this advanced technique, the cancer is frozen off. Freezing effectively destroys the treated area, which causes the cancer to slough off.


If the skin cancer has spread throughout the body, chemotherapy may also be administered orally, intravenously or by injection in order to destroy all diseased cells.

Photodynamic Therapy

In this two-part treatment, a chemical is applied to the affected area for several hours. After which, the area is exposed to a special light, which will successfully eradicate the abnormal cells.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation is usually reserved for older patients who have large areas of skin cancer or have cancerous cells in an area that is hard to treat or remove. With this cancer treatment, the skin cancer is gradually destroyed through repeated exposure to radiation.

Skin Cancer Prevention & Treatment in Nashville

If you believe you have a form of skin cancer, such as basal cell, squamous cell, or malignant melanoma, contact us today at one of our convenient Nashville locations (21st Avenue S., Southern Hills Medical Center, Centennial Medical Center and and St. Thomas Medical Center – Lennox Village), or our Clarksville office to schedule a formal evaluation with one of our skin cancer experts for a diagnosis and full explanation of treatment options.

Learn More About Our Skin Cancer Treatments