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Skin Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin Treatment


Carbon dioxide laser

This method is used very infrequently in the management of BCC because of the difficulty in controlling tumor margins.[30] Few clinicians have extensive experience with the technique for BCC treatment. There are no randomized trials comparing it with other modalities.

Treatment for Recurrent Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin

After treatment for BCC, patients should be followed clinically and examined regularly. Most recurrences occur within 5 years, but as noted above, about 18% of recurrences are diagnosed beyond that point.[2] Patients who develop a primary BCC are also at increased risk of subsequent primary skin cancers because the susceptibility of their sun-damaged skin to additional cancers persists.[31,32,33] This effect is sometimes termed field carcinogenesis. Age at diagnosis of the first BCC (<65 years), red hair, and initial BCC on the upper extremities appear to be associated with higher risk of subsequent new BCCs.[34]

Mohs micrographic surgery is commonly used for local recurrences of BCC. In a separate group within a randomized trial comparing excision to Mohs micrographic surgery for primary BCCs, 204 recurrent BCCs were randomly assigned to excision versus Mohs micrographic surgery. The recurrence rates were 8 out of 102 patients and 2 out of 102 patients, respectively, after a mean follow-up of 2.08 years (P = NS).[3][Level of evidence 1iiDii] There were more postoperative complications, including wound infections, graft necrosis, or bleeding in the excision group than the Mohs surgery group (19% vs. 8%, P = .021). As with primary tumors, the operative costs associated with Mohs surgery were higher than with excision (489.06 Euros vs. 323.49 Euros [P = .001]).

Treatment for Metastatic Basal Cell Carcinoma (or Advanced Disease Untreatable by Local Modalities)

Metastatic and far-advanced BCC is rare, and reports of systemic therapy are limited to case reports and very small case series with tumor response as the endpoint.[35][Level of evidence 3iiiDiv] Cisplatin, alone or in combination with other drugs, is the most commonly reported systemic therapy and appears to be associated with the best tumor-response rates.[36,37] A variety of other agents have been reported but have low-associated response rates, including cyclophosphamide, vinblastine, 5-FU, methotrexate, and doxorubicin.[36]

Since there is no standard therapy, clinical trials are appropriate if available. Because BCCs often exhibit constitutive activation of the Hedgehog/PTCH1-signaling pathway, Hedgehog pathway inhibitors are under investigation.[38] An orally administered Hedgehog pathway inhibitor (GDC-0449) has produced objective responses in patients with advanced or metastatic sporadic BCC,[39] and another topical inhibitor has produced objective responses in patients with nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.[40][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Current Clinical Trials


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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