Treating Skin Cancer on the Nose and Face

April 25, 2016

Basal cell carcinoma is the most frequent skin cancer, and it often shows up on the nose. It’s a normal reaction to be concerned when you find out you have it, but remember it carries less risk than other skin cancers. Discovering it early is the fastest way to a cure. Without treatment, bone tissue under the skin can be affected. This is why diagnosing and treating cancer early on is so important. Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options available.

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-emerging skin cancer and is usually tied to long bouts of extended exposure to UV rays. Younger people with too much sun exposure or use of tanning beds can also get it. “The sun’s UVA/UVB rays and tanning beds are the central cause of basal cell carcinoma,” says Dr. Aaron K. Joseph, a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon with U.S. Dermatology Partners Pasadena. “These days, there are many sunless alternatives to choose from that give the skin a sun-kissed glow without the risks.”  People with fair skin are at a greater risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. The DNA in your skin cells becomes damaged after long exposure to the sun. Since the DNA is the code keeper for the way these cells grow, it can be disrupted from the solar damage causing cancer to form.


Basal cell carcinoma has different appearances. You may first notice the lesions as small bumps with a shiny look and most often they appear on your nose or other areas of your face. They can turn up on other areas of your body, too. It can be shaped like a dome with blood vessels in it and it can be varied colors such as brown, pink or black. A tiny pearl-like bump may first appear and be the color of your skin. It may also look like a stubborn pimple. Sometimes they are scaly, waxy, hard to the touch and sometimes darkish. These lesions are fragile and have a tendency to bleed if injured.


Excision is a surgical procedure where the area to be treated is numbed and any remains of the tumor are cut out along with a small portion of normal-looking skin surrounding the tumor. The excised skin is examined under the microscope and the doctor evaluates if the normal-looking skin is free of cancer cells. If not, another small portion of skin is removed until all tissue reveals no cancer cells.

Curettage and Electrodessication
There are two steps to this procedure. First, the tumor is scraped away. Next electrical impulses are used to destroy any remaining cancer cells. The steps are then repeated.

Mohs Surgery offers the best rate of cure for basal cell cancers. Discuss with your dermatologist if Mohs is right for you. “Patients can expect a very small portion of normal-looking tissue surrounding the tumor to be extracted,” explains. Dr. Joseph. “While you wait, the surgeon inspects the tissue under a microscope looking for cancer cells. If need be the surgeon will continue to remove a very small portion of skin, again inspect it closely under the microscope and continue the process until no cancer cells are detected.”

Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze cancer cells which cause the cells to immediately die.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) employs light to destroy early skin cancer cells. A two-step process, first a chemical is applied to the skin. It remains on the skin until it is completely absorbed. The skin is then exposed to a special light to destroy the cancer cells.

Medicated Creams that contain drugs, such as imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil, can be used to treat early signs of basal cell carcinoma. This can be applied at home as directed by your dermatologist.

Nearly every basal cell cancer can be cured if the skin cancer is found early and treated. If you are worried about skin cancer about the nose and face, contact your dermatologist for a consultation.

Looking for a Mohs Surgeon?

High cure rates for Mohs makes the procedure an appealing choice for skin cancer treatment. However, it’s important to discuss your health history and other factors with your Mohs surgeon, dermatologist or physician to be certain it is your best option. We have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.

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