Aims: To review the diagnostic features and characteristics of an uncommon tumour, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the vulva.
Methods: The clinical and pathological details of six vulvar BCCs were reviewed. Four of the BCCs arose in isolation, one was combined with vulvar Paget's disease and another was intimately associated with a poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma.
Results: The average age of the six patients was 76 years (75 years for 'isolated' BCC; 78 years for BCC 'mixed' with other lesions). The duration of symptoms averaged 13 months in 'isolated' BCC but 24 months in 'mixed' BCC. Vulvar pruritus was the most common presenting complaint in the four cases of 'isolated' BCC. The initial biopsies included shave (× 2) or punch biopsies (× 4). Definitive surgery included excisional biopsy (× 2) or a wide local excision (× 3). In the five assessable tumours, the maximum tumour diameter averaged 19.8 mm (range 11-36 mm). In the sixth patient the BCC was contiguous with a 70 mm, unresectable, poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma which was treated by radiotherapy alone.
Conclusions: : Although the histological diagnosis of vulvar BCC was straightforward in some of our cases, others presented difficulties due to non-representative initial biopsies, insufficient clinical information or contiguity with lesions of greater clinical significance such as Paget's disease or squamous cell carcinoma.