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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Jan;56(1):91-5.

Recurrence rates of primary basal cell carcinoma in facial risk areas treated with curettage and electrodesiccation.

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Department of Dermatology, Asturias Central University Hospital, University of Oviedo, Spain.



The incidence of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is increasing. Curettage and electrodesiccation (CE) are not recommended for BCC treatment at medium- and high-risk facial sites. Surgical excision has been proposed as the treatment of choice.


We sought to evaluate the cumulative recurrence rate (RR) of primary BCC in facial areas of medium and high risk after CE.


This nonrandomized, clinical trial enrolled 257 patients with primary BCC located in medium- and high-risk facial areas, and treated with 4 or 5 cycles of CE by a single operator from a section specializing in BCC CE in a tertiary teaching hospital in Oviedo, Spain. Exclusion criteria for study entry included: recurrent BCC, fibrosing BCC, ill-defined BCC, and BCC larger than 10 mm in diameter (high-risk facial sites) or larger than 15 mm in diameter (medium-risk sites); BCC smaller than 4 mm; and nonbiopsy-proven BCC. BCCs included in the study were from the nose, and paranasal and nasal-labial fold (n = 105); eyelids and canthi (n = 48); perioral areas (n = 12); ears (n = 11); forehead and temples (n = 48); periauricular areas (n = 14); and malar areas and cheeks (n = 19). The primary outcome was recurrence of carcinoma, which was clinically evaluated by at least two observers in consensus. Data were analyzed using both a life table method and Kaplan-Meier analysis. The statistical analysis included best- and worst-case scenarios (which means that all cases lost to follow-up were considered as recurrences).


The 5-year cumulative non-RR in the best-case scenario was 98.80% (SE 0.70, 95% confidence interval 97.40%-100%); thus, a 5-year cumulative RR of 1.20% was found after CE in our medium- and high-risk BCCs of the face (best case). The 5-year cumulative non-RR in the worst-case scenario was 79.40% (95% confidence interval 78.90%-79.90%); thus, a 5-year cumulative RR of 20.60%.


Retrospective design with a relatively small number of patients lost to follow-up is a study limitation.


High 5-year cure rates can be obtained after CE of primary, nonfibrosing BCCs of medium- and high-risk areas of the face performed in a specialized section.

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