What is a basal cell carcinoma?
Basal cell tumors are the most common type of skin cancer. They typically occur on light exposed areas of the body, but can be found anywhere. There are three major types, each of which is described in detail below.
Superficial This type of basal cell carcinoma is usually reddish in color and has well-defined borders. Superficial spreading basal cell tumors usually start small and expand outwards horizontally. They can become quite large but their redness often causes them to be misdiagnosed as ringworm or dermatitis.
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Nodular The second and most commonly seen type of basal cell tumor is the nodular tumor. This type rises above the surface of the skin and is characterized by a defined portion much like a mushroom cap. Nodular basal cell tumors may reach considerable size and, if neglected, invade deeper structures. They can be seen on any part of the body, but occur most frequently on the face.
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Sclerosing The sclerosing basal cell tumor is perhaps the most destructive form of skin cancer. In its early stages it is unimpressive. Flush with the surface of the skin and with few color changes, it often goes unnoticed for a long time. Eventually the normal skin contour fades and the loss of tissue substance becomes apparent.
Finger-like projections extending into the surrounding tissue make a surgical cure difficult. The margins are poorly defined and if all of the infiltrating tendrils of tumor are not removed, recurrence of the tumor is likely. Areas around the nose, eye and ear are most commonly affected.
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Other Examples While three main types of basal cell carcinoma are commonly found, many variations of these tumors also exist.
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