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J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1992 Jun;18(6):471-6.

Recurrence rates of treated basal cell carcinomas. Part 3: Surgical excision.

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Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine.


This is the third report in a series that reviews the experience in the Skin and Cancer Unit, from 1955 through 1982, with the treatment of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs). It concerns 588 previously untreated (primary) BCCs removed by surgical excision. The cumulative 5-year recurrence rate was 4.8%. This is a statistically significant lower recurrence rate (P = .034) than 135 previously treated BCCs that had a re-recurrence rate of 11.6%. For the primary BCCs, multivariate analysis showed that location on the head (P = .010) and being male (P = .004) were independent risk factors for recurrence. The patient's age, the duration of the BCC, its maximum diameter, or the time span (1955-1963, 1964-1972, 1973-1982) in which it was treated did not significantly affect the recurrence rate. The 5-year recurrence rate for BCCs excised from various anatomic sites were as follows: 1) neck, trunk, and extremities = 0.7%; 2) head--less than 6 mm in diameter = 3.2%; 3) head--6 to 9 mm in diameter = 8.0% (treated since 1964 = 5.2%); and 4) head--10 mm or more in diameter = 9.0%. Surgical excision is a highly effective method for removal of BCCs, and achieved a good to excellent cosmetic outcome in about 85% of the recurrence-free treatment sites.

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