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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013 Dec;132(6):1631-43. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182a8085f.

Evidence-based medicine: facial skin malignancy.

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  • 1Washington, D.C. From the Department of Plastic Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital; Georgetown Dermatology; and DAVinci Plastic Surgery.



After studying this article, the participant should be able to: 1. Identify common precancerous and malignant cutaneous growths of the head and neck. 2. Recommend surgical treatment, including margins, based on consensus guidelines. 3. Counsel patients as to available evidence for expected recurrence, follow-up, and morbidity.


Skin lesion excision is the most common procedure performed by plastic surgeons. Because of the cumulative risk factors of sun and carcinogen exposure, the head and neck are the most frequently affected regions of the body. Timely diagnosis and treatment are critical for preventing continued spread and metastasis, and it is incumbent on the treating physician to make the appropriate recommendations for surgical margin and the possibility of adjuvant therapy to prevent recurrence and optimize long-term survival. As clinical guidelines are developed from ongoing outcome studies, new generations of treatment recommendations are continuously in development. Therefore, a systematic review of the most relevant guidelines and clinically rigorous studies was performed with a summarization of treatment recommendations for the following: actinic keratosis, Bowen disease (squamous cell in situ), basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

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