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Key features dermatologists use to diagnose basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell skin cancer, also known as basal cell carcinoma, is the most common type of skin cancer and affects millions of people every year. It can appear in several different ways based on it’s different subtypes. There are several key features that can be used by dermatologists to help diagnose basal cell carcinoma.

The nodular subtype of basal cell carcinoma often presents as a pink to pearly white raised bump on the skin that can either be flat or dome-shaped on top. They can develop an indentation or crater in the center yet still maintain the raised pearly white edge. “Some key features of nodule basal cell carcinoma are visible blood vessels on the surface of the lesion known as telangiectasias, easy bleeding or developing a scab or crust over area which does not heal,” shares Dr. Adam Mamelak, board certified Dermatologist and Mohs Micrographic Surgeon at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. They are often located on sun exposed areas such as the head, neck and face, especially the nose.

Another subtype is called superficial basal cell carcinoma. Unlike nodule basal cell carcinoma, these lesion tend to occur on the arms, legs and chest. “They appear as red scaly raised areas on the skin, similar to a patch or eczema or psoriasis,” says Dr. Mamelak. One key feature is raised pearly white edges that appear similar to those found in the nodular type described above.

The final subtype is morpheaform basal cell carcinoma. This type often appears as a hard white, yellow or skin colored plaque, similar to a scar. One key feature is the lesions often lack the clear edges or borders associated with scars.

Basal cell skin cancer can appear in many ways and mimic other skin conditions. “Several key features associated with basal cell carcinoma include telangiectasis, easy bleeding, raise white edges or lack of clear edges and open sores that do not seem to heal,” Dr. Mamelak says. In the end, an diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma is confirmed by biopsy of the skin lesion.

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Have you noticed any of these key features in any of your skin spots? Contact one of our expert dermatologists today and see how we can help diagnose and treat your skin condition.