Metastatic basal cell carcinoma: report of twelve cases with a review of the literature

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1991 May;24(5 Pt 1):715-9. doi: 10.1016/0190-9622(91)70108-e.


Metastatic basal cell carcinoma was found in 12 patients at the University of Wisconsin Mohs Surgery Clinic during the period 1936 to 1989. All patients were white men. The time of onset of the primary tumor ranged from childhood to 71 years. Eleven patients had previous treatment for basal cell carcinoma; two patients had received x-ray radiation to the face for teenage acne. The locations of the primary basal cell carcinomas were the face (n = 10), back (n = 1), and arm (n = 1). The primary tumors ranged from 3.6 x 3.0 to 20.0 x 7.0 cm. The interval from onset to the first sign of metastases ranged from 7 to 34 years. In all cases, the primary tumor was histologically identical to the metastatic lesion. Perineural extension of the basal cell carcinoma in the primary lesion was found in five cases. Regional lymph nodes were the most frequent site of metastasis. Treatment consisted of a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Only two patients survived more than 5 years after surgical treatment. One patient has survived 25 years and is still alive.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / therapy
  • Facial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy