Basal-cell carcinoma CBD treatment explained | CAC
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Basal-cell carcinoma CBD treatment explained

Basal-cell carcinoma CBD treatment

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Basal-cell carcinoma is one of the most common skin cancers in the UK. It accounts for 75% of all non-melanoma skin cancers and affects more than 155,000 people each year. It is usually slow-growing, develops in the top layer of skin called the epidermis, and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. 

While there’s no concrete evidence so far that CBD oil can cure cancer, there are several studies emerging which suggest it might be beneficial in alleviating some cancer symptoms as well as the side effects of some cancer treatments. A 2022 review concluded cannabinoids – compounds found in the cannabis plant, including CBD – showed promise for the systemic treatment of certain skin cancers and recommended that further clinical studies should be undertaken. 

Basal-cell carcinoma CBD treatment

Understanding basal-cell carcinoma

Basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) is a very common skin cancer that usually affects the middle-aged and the elderly. 

It’s mostly caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun, and is more prevalent in men than women. It begins in the basal cells, which are found in the epidermis (the top layer of skin), and are responsible for making new cells when old ones die off. Other factors which increase the risk of BCC include:

  • Red or blond hair
  • Repeated sunburn and lots of sun exposure
  • Lots of freckles or moles
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Heavy sunbed usage 
  • Family history of skin cancer

Although it rarely spreads to other parts of the body, if left untreated it can become ulcerated, which doctors call a rodent ulcer.

The subtypes of basal-cell carcinoma

There are four different types of BCC, and each one can look and behave differently.

  • Nodular basal cell skin carcinoma – This usually presents as a translucent nodule with small blood vessels present
  • Superficial basal cell skin carcinoma – Most often appearing on the back, it presents as pink or skin-coloured plaques which spread over the years 
  • Morphoeic basal cell skin carcinoma – Initially difficult to diagnose as it often looks like a scar, this subtype is particularly aggressive 
  • Pigmented basal cell skin carcinoma – These most often occur in darker-skinned individuals and particularly in Asians 


Tumours may have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • A shiny, skin-coloured, slightly translucent bump – on light-coloured skin, this can appear pearly white. On brown or black skin, it may look shiny and dark. Tiny blood vessels may also be present
  • Scaly red mark, flat on the skin – it might have a raised edge and could grow over time
  • Black, blue or brown lesion – It may have slightly raised, translucent edges
  • Looks like a scar – It may appear waxy with undefined edges

Basal-cell carcinoma CBD treatment

CBD: What is it?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of a group of more than 100 active compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant called cannabinoids. Unlike the main active compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it has no psychotropic effect and therefore no high. 

CBD reacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex and vast system of signaller and receptor cells which are responsible for many critical functions. 

CBD is believed to have many beneficial properties, and studies have shown it is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial.

The potential anti-cancer properties of CBD

CBD has been shown in animal cancer models to inhibit the growth of several different types of cancer, including melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. 

A 2019 study into malignant melanoma found a significant decrease in tumour size in mice given CBD compared to those taking a placebo.

Moreover, it has also been shown in several studies to induce cell death, inhibit cell migration and reduce tumour growth, specifically in relation to brain tumours, but research is ongoing to see if it brings about a similar effect in skin cancer cells. In breast cancer research, it was also shown to prevent the proliferation of cancer cells through a variety of mechanisms including apoptosis (cell death) and autophagy (the body’s process of using old and damaged cell parts). It was also shown to stop breast cancer spreading.

Specifically in relation to melanoma, the studies have also been promising. Traditional chemotherapy can cause significant adverse side effects with only moderate progress in respect of patient survival. However, it is believed that, because CBD reacts with the endocannabinoid system, and this plays a crucial role in skin homeostasis, it will have a beneficial impact on treating skin cancers. 

One 2018 review established that as well as having palliative effects in cancer therapy (anti-sickness drugs for chemotherapy patients), CBD could also inhibit tumour growth, blood vessel development, invasion, chemo resistance as well as increase cell death and enhance immune surveillance. Furthermore, the review suggested it could be a potent complementary therapy to sit alongside traditional therapeutics and alleviate some of the adverse side effects.

Basal-cell carcinoma CBD treatment

A potential treatment for basal-cell carcinoma

Due to BCC’s low mortality rates, the focus for CBD as a treatment has been on more aggressive forms of cancer such as melanoma and gliomas. But based on the research so far, it would seem that CBD has many anti-cancer properties which could equally apply to the treatment of BCC. While the studies are promising, further standardised research and clinical trials need to take place before it can be confirmed as an effective anti-cancer treatment.

If you have experience with any medical cannabis clinics here in the UK, and would like to share your experiences, then please do! 

Here at Cannabis Access Clinics, we offer patients the opportunity to read and leave reviews that contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the cannabis medicine landscape here in the UK. We are dedicated to providing patients with unbiased reviews, so they can make informed decisions about their healthcare.