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Dermatol Surg. 1997 Aug;23(8):625-30; discussion 630-1.

Does inflammation contribute to the eradication of basal cell carcinoma following curettage and electrodesiccation?

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  • 1Division of Dermatology, University of Tennessee, Memphis, USA.



Curettage and electrodesiccation (C&D) is probably the technique most frequently utilized by dermatologists to treat basal cell carcinomas (BCC). From histologic studies, it appears C&D does not completely mechanically remove all nests of BCC in a substantial number of cases. Nevertheless, the reported 5-year reoccurrence rate following C&D is significantly less than this histologically observed residual tumor frequency immediately following C&D. Among the multiple possibilities that exist to explain why these residual nests do not appear as recurrent tumor more frequently is the theory that inflammation developing after C&D clears residual tumor.


To test the hypothesis that inflammation developing after C&D clears residual tumor not mechanically removed by the procedure.


The frequency of residual BCC detected histologically immediately following C&D was compared with the frequency 1 month after the C&D, an amount of time in which an effect (if any) of inflammation could occur.


Twenty-two of 29 primary BCC < 1 cm treated by C&D were tumor free immediately following the procedure (clearance rate, 75.9%). Eleven of 14 primary BCC < 1 cm treated by C&D then allowed to granulate 1 month before excision and histologic analysis were tumor free, for a clearance rate of 78.6%. Examination of larger tumors immediately following C&D revealed size is a significant variable for clearance rates. Eleven primary BCC > 1 cm but < 2 cm were examined histologically immediately following C&D; only three were tumor free for a clearance rate of 27.3%. Only one of five tumors > 2 cm thus treated was tumor free, for a clearance rate of 20%. Nine recurrent BCC of various sizes were treated by C&D and immediately examined histologically. Two were tumor free for a clearance rate of 22.2%. Two recurrent BCC were allowed to heal 1 month following C&D; one of these was tumor free when excised.


For primary BCC < 1 cm, no evidence was found that inflammation occurring over 1 month following C&D clears residual tumor. It was also noted that C&D fails to completely remove tumor in a large majority of primary BCC > 1 cm, and in recurrent BCC.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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