Photo Rounds

Growth on right cheek

A 52-year-old man presented to his family physician (FP) with a 1 cm growth on his right cheek. With the naked eye, the FP saw a tumor (FIGURE 1A) that was partially pigmented and had abnormal vessels. He placed his dermatoscope against the patient’s skin using a polarized mode for visualization (FIGURE 1B). He saw arborizing vessels, shiny white areas, and gray-blue globules.

What's your diagnosis?


Figure 1

Growth on right cheek

The FP suspected that this was a nodular basal cell carcinoma (BCC) with pigmentation. The physical exam was suspicious because of the pearly appearance, superficial ulcerations, and presence of telangiectasias with a loss of the normal pore pattern. Dermoscopy gave further evidence for a nodular BCC by revealing arborizing “tree-like” telangiectasias, ulcerations, shiny white areas, and gray-blue globules. Skin cancers often produce their own vascular supply and also ulcerate. The shiny white areas (which are the result of collagen deposition and occur in many skin cancers) are best seen with polarized dermoscopy.

The FP recommended a shave biopsy and performed one immediately after obtaining patient consent. (See the Watch & Learn video on “Shave biopsy.”) Knowing that the BCC would be vascular, the FP injected 1% lidocaine with epinephrine and waited 15 minutes for the epinephrine to work.

After seeing another patient, he performed the shave biopsy with a Dermablade, and used a cotton-tipped applicator to vigorously apply the aluminum chloride to the site. He used a twisting motion and pressure to stop most of the bleeding and then used his electrosurgical instrument—with a sharp tipped electrode—to stop recalcitrant bleeders.

The patient was given a diagnosis of BCC on the follow-up visit. The FP referred the patient for Mohs surgery because of the large size and location of the tumor.

Photos and text for Photo Rounds Friday courtesy of Richard P. Usatine, MD. This case was adapted from: Karnes J, Usatine R. Basal cell carcinoma. In: Usatine R, Smith M, Mayeaux EJ, et al. Color Atlas of Family Medicine. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2013:989-998.

To learn more about the Color Atlas of Family Medicine, see:

You can now get the second edition of the Color Atlas of Family Medicine as an app by clicking on this link:

Next Article: