Surgical treatment of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma

G. Gualdi, P. Monari, Z. Apalla, A. Lallas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) are the most common human neoplasms, encompassing basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), but also cutaneous lymphomas, adnexal tumors, merckel cell carcinoma and other rare tumors. The incidence of BCC and SCC varies signifi-cantly among different populations, and the overall incidence of both tumors has increased over the last decades. Although generally associated with a favorable prognosis, recent evidence suggests that the mortality rates of SCC might have been underestimated up-to-date.1 According to Medicare data, NMSC is the fifth most expensive cancer for health care systems. This increased economic burden is not associated with the cost of treating an individual patient, but with the large number of affected patients and the recurrence rates.2 Therefore, the adequate management of the primary tumor with a complete excision becomes a priority not only for the patient but also for the public health systems. Multiple treatment modalities are currently usedin clinicalpractice for the treatment of NMSC. While surgical excision (SE) remains the gold standard of care, non-surgical techniques have gained appreciation due to lower morbidity and better cosmetic results. The optimal management of treatment includes a complete tumor clearance, preservation of the normal tissue function, and the best possible cosmetic outcome.3 Surgery with a predefined excision margin is the treatment of choice for most NMSCs, with Mohs micrographic surgery being recommended for tumors considered to be at a higher recurrence risk or those developing on cosmetically sensitive areas.4, 5 Therefore, the surgical approach of a NMSC consists with three different and equally important steps. First the preoperative clinical assessment of the tumor margins, which can be facilitated by the use of dermoscopy. Second, the definition of the surgical margins depending on the tumor subtype and its biological behavior. Finally, the surgical pro cedure must be designed based on the anatomic site and the patient's charachteristics. This preoperative assessment requires specific skills and might be performed by a physician, the dermatosurgeon, two collaborating specialists, namely a dermatologist and a surgeon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-447
Number of pages13
JournalGiornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Basal cell
  • Carcinoma
  • Carcinoma
  • Operative
  • Skin neoplasms
  • Squamous cell
  • Surgical procedures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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