Surgical excision versus Mohs' micrographic surgery for basal cell carcinoma of the face: A randomised clinical trial with 10 year follow-up

Eur J Cancer. 2014 Nov;50(17):3011-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2014.08.018. Epub 2014 Sep 25.


Background: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of cancer among Caucasians and its incidence continues to rise. Surgical excision (SE) is considered standard treatment, though randomised trials with long-term follow-up are rare. We now report the long-term results of a randomised trial comparing surgical excision with Mohs' micrographic surgery (MMS) for facial BCC.

Methods: 408 facial, high risk (diameter at least 1cm, H-zone location or aggressive histological subtype) primary BCCs (pBCCs) and 204 facial recurrent BCCs (rBCCs) were randomly allocated to treatment with either SE or MMS between 5th October 1999 and 27th February 2002. The primary outcome was recurrence of carcinoma. A modified intention to treat analysis was performed.

Findings: For primary BCC, the 10-year cumulative probabilities of recurrence were 4.4% after MMS and 12.2% after SE (Log-rank test χ(2) 2.704, p=0.100). For recurrent BCC, cumulative 10-year recurrence probabilities were 3.9% and 13.5% for MMS and SE, respectively (Log-rank χ(2) 5.166, p=0.023). A substantial proportion of recurrences occurred after more than 5years post-treatment: 56% for pBCC and 14% for rBCC.

Interpretation: Fewer recurrences occurred after treatment of high risk facial BCC with MMS compared to treatment with SE. The proportion of recurrences occurring more than 5years post-treatment was especially high for pBCC, stressing the need for long-term follow-up in patients with high risk facial pBCC.

Keywords: Basal cell carcinoma; Facial; Mohs surgery; Randomised controlled trial; Surgical excision.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / surgery*
  • Facial Neoplasms / mortality
  • Facial Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mohs Surgery / methods*
  • Mohs Surgery / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN65009900