Basal cell carcinoma : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

Basal cell carcinoma may look only slightly different than normal skin. The cancer may appear as skin bump or growth that is:

  • Pearly or waxy
  • White or light pink
  • Flesh-colored or brown

In some cases the skin may be just slightly raised or even flat.

You may have:

  • A skin sore that bleeds easily
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Oozing or crusting spots in a sore
  • Appearance of a scar-like sore without having injured the area
  • Irregular blood vessels in or around the spot
  • A sore with a depressed (sunken) area in the middle

Diagnosis & Tests

Your doctor will check your skin and look at the size, shape, color, and texture of any suspicious areas.

If skin cancer is a possibility, a piece of skin will be removed from the area and examined under a microscope. This is called a skin biopsy. This must be done to confirm the diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma or other skin cancers. There are many types of skin biopsies. The exact procedure depends on the location of the suspected skin cancer.


Review Date : 2/5/2008
Reviewed By : Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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