Basal cell carcinoma in skin of color

From dermoscopedia
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 Author(s): Richard Usatine, Rachel Manci
Description This chapter describes the dermoscopy criteria of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) in skin of color
Author(s) Rachel Manci · Richard Usatine
Responsible author Richard Usatine→ send e-mail
Status unknown
Status update May 23, 2023
Status by Ralph P. Braun

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common malignancy. [1] It is most prevalent in those of light and intermediate skin types, and only rarely affects those of darker skin tones. Unfortunately, the lower incidence and lack of surveillance frequently results in delayed diagnosis, increased morbidity, and poorer outcomes for this population. [2] Health inequities, poverty and lack of healthcare access also contribute to delayed diagnosis and worse outcomes.

The dermoscopic features and structures of BCC have been very well described and delineated in the literature. A summary of these features and structures can be found here:

The following schematic is a great overview of BCC features.

Created by Natalia Jaimes
File created by Natalia Jaimes.

Despite this extensive knowledge about the dermoscopy of BCCs, very little has been reported about the dermoscopy of BCCs in patients of color. The most comprehensive dermatology article on skin cancer in skin of color does not even mention dermoscopy once. [3] Therefore, we will summarize dermoscopy features of BCC in patients of color here.

We will divide the section up by the most common BCC types:

  • Nodular
  • Superficial
  • Morpheaform/Sclerosing/Infiltrative


In summary, many nodular BCCs in patients of color are darkly pigmented, and have one or more of the following dermoscopic features:

  • Arborizing vessels
  • Shiny white blotches and strands
  • Blue-gray ovoid nests
  • Blue-gray non-aggregated globules

It is also important to note that some BCCs in patients of color have features that mimic melanoma (i.e. blue white veil).


In summary, the following are some dermoscopy features seen in superficial BCCs in patients of color:

  • Leaf-like structures
  • Erosions
  • Spoke-wheel structures


Links to additional chapters on Skin of Color


  1. Marzuka & Book: Basal cell carcinoma: pathogenesis, epidemiology, clinical features, diagnosis, histopathology, and management. Yale J Biol Med 2015;88:167-79. PMID: 26029015.
  2. Ahluwalia et al.: Basal cell carcinoma in skin of color. J Drugs Dermatol 2012;11:484-6. PMID: 22453586.
  3. Gloster & Neal: Skin cancer in skin of color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006;55:741-60; quiz 761-4. PMID: 17052479. DOI.
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