Initially, your oncologist will ask
you questions about your medical history. In addition, he will perform a physical examination looking for
clinical signs of basal cell carcinoma. This examination will help him detect not only the tumor but also the
type of cancer you have. Depending on the appearance of the tumor and the results of microscopic examination,
basal cell carcinoma is divided into many subtypes; the most common include:
- Cicatricial basal
cell carcinoma: also called
morpheaform basal cell carcinoma or morphoeic basal cell carcinoma, this subtype of basal cell carcinoma
develops as small papular and translucent patch, which gradually spreads and turns into a
central white scar-like patch covered
with small hemorrhagic crusts.
ulcer: also known as a Jacobi
ulcer, rodent ulcer is a form of basal cell carcinoma characterized by a slow growing ulceration of the
skin that usually appear on the face. Although named “rodent ulcer”, the tumor is not caused by rodents.
- Nodular basal cell carcinoma
– this subtype of basal cell carcinoma
is often called "classic basal cell carcinoma". It tends to develop
as a waxy, translucent papule
with central depression and a few small erosions. The papule has a
smooth surface with small
dilated blood vessels (telangiectasia).
- Cystic basal cell carcinoma: cystic
basal cell carcinoma is often mistakenly taken for nodular basal cell carcinoma; they have almost the same
characteristics. The tumor is characterized by dome-shaped, blue-gray cystic
nodules. Usually, the center of the lesion contains a clear
mucin that has a gelatin-like consistency.
- Basal cell carcinoma
Pigmented: this type of
carcinoma is characterized by brown-black
lesions that are clinically closed to
those of melanoma and seborrheic warts. In general, the lesions are numerous and pigmented.
- Superficial basal
cell carcinoma: this subtype
of basal cell carcinoma is characterized by multiple circumscribed
erythematosus patches that tend to
develop on the
upper trunk or shoulders. The patches grow slowly, and can develop on any area of the skin, unlike
most basal cell carcinomas.
After typical signs of
basal cell carcinoma have been found, your oncologist will take a skin sample in the affected area to be
examined under a microscope. The biopsy will be performed by a skilled pathologist who is able to confirm if you
have basal cell carcinoma or not.