What Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Look Like?

Basal cell carcinoma is a malignant skin tumor involving cancerous changes of basal skin cells. Basal cell skin cancers usually occur on areas of skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation.

If you have a suspicious lesion, your dermatologist will want to perform a biopsy to determine whether or not it is basal cell carcinoma. Treatment varies depending on the size, depth, and location of your cancer.

Early treatment is important as studies have shown early treatment by a dermatologist can result in a cure rate of more than 95 percent.

Regular examination by your health care provider is required to watch for new sites of basal cell cancer.

This image gallery will help you identify the range of basal cell lesions so that you can know when to contact your physician.

Classic Example of Basal Cell Carcinoma

A basal cell carcinoma will often look flesh-colored, wart-like, pearly, smooth, non-scaly papule (bump). This type of skin cancer is often found on a commonly sun-exposed area of the face like the forehead.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Pictures - On Nose

The typical basal cell carcinoma appears as a small, pearly, dome-shaped nodule with small visible blood vessels known as telangiectasias.

Pigmented Basal Cell Carcinoma

A basal cell carcinoma may appear as a 2- to 3-centimeter skin spot. The tissue has become destroyed forming what's called an atrophic plaque. There may see brownish color because of increased skin pigment (hyperpigmentation) and a slightly elevated, rolled, pearl-colored margin. Such growths may sometimes be located along the hair line.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Behind the Ear

A basal cell carcinoma may also appear as a 1- to 1.5-centimeter flesh-colored nodule with a depression in the middle and a raised, pearly border. Small blood vessels may be visible, which means the lesion is telangiectatic.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Pictures - Spreading

A basal cell carcinoma may also be larger, around 5 to 6 centimeters across, red, has well-defined (demarcated) borders, and sprinkled brown pigment along the margins.

Basal Cell Carcinoma on the Tip of the Nose

The nose is another common location where basal cell carcinomas may form as a result of sun exposure. The lesion may have a pearly, slightly raised border, and would likely bleed easily if traumatized.

Close-Up of Basal Cell Carcinoma

This basal cell carcinoma exhibits a characteristic of this type of lesion known as a telangiectasia, which means small blood vessels are present. The lesion is also pearly and smooth, with a slight depression in the middle.

Another Close-Up Basal Cell Carcinoma Pictures

This basal cell carcinoma appears as a multicolored flat lesion with ulcerations and bleeding along the edges. Telangiectasia, blood vessels, may be present.

Basal Cell Skin Carcinoma Caused by X-Ray Therapy

Basal cell carcinomas are more prevalent on sun- or radiation-exposed areas of skin. Here, the typical lesion with raised, rolled, pearly borders and an ulcerated center is seen on the back of a person previously irradiated for acne, a common practice in the 1940s.

If you are concerned a spot on your skin might be melanoma, speak with your dermatologist and have the area evaluated. 

Skin Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

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