BACKGROUND: Physicians inevitably receive a pathology report after excision of a basal cell carcinoma that indicates that it is incompletely excised. The physician and patient are then left with the dilemma of whether immediate re-excision or close clinical follow-up is indicated.
OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to identify characteristics of incompletely excised basal cell carcinomas that are at low risk for recurrence.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the charts and pathology slides of all incompletely excised basal cell carcinomas from 1991 to 1994 in a university hospital tumor registry.
RESULTS: Incompletely excised basal cell carcinomas of superficial or nodular subtype, less than 1 cm in diameter, located anywhere except the nose or ears, with less than 4% marginal involvement on the initial inadequate excision had no evidence of tumor persistence.
CONCLUSION: When physicians receive a pathology report indicating the incomplete excision of a basal cell carcinoma, they face the dilemma of further management. The majority of patients should undergo immediate re-excision or Mohs micrographic surgery because tumor persistence was found in 28% of cases. Occasionally, for a small group of select patients, close clinical follow-up may be indicated if the risk of recurrence is very low.
Berlin J, Katz KH, Helm KF, Maloney ME. The significance of tumor persistence after incomplete excision of basal cell carcinoma. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Apr;46(4):549-53. doi:10.1067/mjd.2002.117733
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