Basal cell carcinoma: treatment options and prognosis, a scientific approach to a common malignancy

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2002;3(4):247-59. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200203040-00003.


The incidence of basal cell carcinoma is rapidly increasing and a number of treatment modalities are available. Treatment of basal cell carcinoma includes both surgical and nonsurgical approaches, some of which are traditional, and others experimental. The treatment modality utilized is dependent on both the tumor type and the patient. In order to choose between therapies, evidence-based research is necessary. In an extensive review of the literature concerning treatment options for patients with basal cell carcinoma, we found that there are a limited number of comparative, prospective, randomized, long-term follow-up studies. Based on the results of the available studies, surgical excision, Mohs surgery and cryosurgery are the three standard therapies of choice. Other treatment modalities should be considered secondary choices. There are also promising new treatment options, such as photodynamic therapy, which need further investigation. Special attention is needed when treating the more aggressive subtypes of the disease, such as the micronodular, infiltrative, adenoid and morpheic forms of basal cell carcinoma, as well as bigger basal cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinoma recurrences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / therapy*
  • Cryosurgery / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mohs Surgery / methods
  • Photochemotherapy / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome