Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma

September 14, 2005
Jonathan S. Crane, MD

,
Reynold C. Wong, MD

Eczema was the original diagnosis of this pink, scaly, asymptomatic patch on a 44-year-old man's chest. A mid-potency corticosteroid ointment had been prescribed but had no effect on the lesion. Now, 18 months later, the patient said the patch had been slowly enlarging.

Eczema was the original diagnosis of this pink, scaly, asymptomatic patch on a 44-year-old man's chest. A mid-potency corticosteroid ointment had been prescribed but had no effect on the lesion. Now, 18 months later, the patient said the patch had been slowly enlarging. A biopsy was performed, and the pathology report confirmed the clinical impression of a superficial basal cell carcinoma. Treatment with electrocautery and curettage proved successful.

Superficial basal cell carcinomas may indeed resemble nummular eczema, writes Dr Reynold C. Wong of Sacramento, Calif. To rule out this malignancy, a biopsy should be performed when an isolated patch of “eczema” does not respond to corticosteroid therapy.

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