What Is Morpheaform (Sclerosing) Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common kind of skin cancer. It is also the most frequently occurring kind of all cancers. There are different types of BCC, including morpheaform BCC. It is also known as sclerosing BCC.1

What is morpheaform (sclerosing) basal cell carcinoma?

Morpheaform or sclerosing BCC gets its name because it looks similar to localized scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and thickening in the skin. The lesions caused by morpheaform BCC are:2

  • Pink to ivory white
  • Shiny
  • Smooth
  • Scar-like plaques or indentations with uneven borders

Erosions or crusts can also form on the lesions.2

This form of BCC is often mistaken for scarring or other kinds of skin cancer. As with other forms of skin cancer, a biopsy is the only way to accurately diagnose morpheaform BCC and create the right treatment plan.2

How common is morpheaform basal cell carcinoma?

About 5 to 10 percent of cases of BCC are morpheaform BCC. This form of cancer tends to be more aggressive than other types of BCC and can broadly spread to areas around the lesion, causing widespread disease.3

What causes morpheaform basal cell carcinoma?

Sun exposure is the most common environmental cause of BCC. However, research shows that the type of sun exposure makes a difference. Recreational sun exposure during childhood and adolescence appears to increase later risk for developing BCC, while regular sun exposure that people get during typical everyday activities does not.2

Other risk factors for morpheaform BCC include:2

  • Light skin color
  • Severe sunburns
  • Freckling in childhood
  • Northern European ethnicity

If you have already been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), you are also at higher risk for another incidence of BCC.2

Treatment options for morpheaform basal cell carcinoma

In order to create the best treatment plan for morpheaform BCC, a proper diagnosis must first be made. Doctors usually do this by examining a biopsy of the affected area under a microscope. This allows them to confirm a morpheaform BCC diagnosis.2

A main factor in how morpheaform BCC is treated is how likely it is that the tumor or lesion will come back (aggressiveness). The location of the tumor or lesion also affects how it is treated.

The goal of treatment for BCC is to completely remove the tumor while preserving function and cosmetic appearance at the treatment site. For low-risk cases of BCC, treatment, and management usually includes surgical removal or curettage and electrodesiccation. During this procedure, a doctor scrapes the affected skin with a curette (spoon-shaped instrument). After removing the cancerous tissue, the doctor cauterizes (heats) the area to minimize bleeding and the risk of infection.2

Other treatment options for low-risk BCCs include:2

For more aggressive BCCs like morpheaform BCC, Mohs surgery may be done. This is a specialized surgery that helps to preserve tissue around the tumor/lesion. Mohs surgery provides the highest cure rate and is recommended for lesions that are likely to reoccur.2

If Mohs surgery is not possible because of the location of the lesion or other factors, a doctor may perform surgery to remove the tumor or lesion without preserving the surrounding tissue. If surgery is not able to be done at all, radiation therapy may be an option.2

Things to consider

Depending on where your morpheaform BCC tumor or lesion is located, your treatment options can vary. Talk with your doctor about all of your options, the risks and benefits of each one, and what to expect with each treatment choice. Each person is different, and your doctor will be able to help provide you with information so you can make the best decision.

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