A 5-year follow-up study of 633 cutaneous SCC excisions: Rates of local recurrence and lymph node metastasis

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2018 Aug;71(8):1153-1158. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2018.03.019. Epub 2018 May 2.


Background: A 5-year follow-up study of 633 cutaneous squamous cell cancer (SCC) excisions was performed by collecting data on rates of local recurrence (LR) and lymph node (LN) metastasis.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients was performed across four regional plastic surgery centres (Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury; John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford; Salisbury District Hospital, Salisbury and Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth) assessing rates of LR and LN metastasis.

Results: We report 5-year outcomes from 598 SCCs (95% follow-up rate). The total recurrence rate (LR and LN metastasis) was 6.7% (n = 40) at 5 years, with 96% of these occurring within 2 years. Median time to LR was 9 months (1-57), with 76.9% (n = 20) undergoing further wide local excision. Median time to LN metastasis was 5.5 months (1-18 months). There were two cases of disease-related death. Only 15% (n = 6) of incomplete excisions recurred. Interestingly, 19.1% (n = 9) of 47 SCCs with perineural invasion on original histopathology recurred versus only 5.6% (n = 31) of the 551 SCCs without perineural invasion (p = 0.005).

Conclusions: This study is one of the largest studies to date following up 598 SCC excisions at 5 years with total recurrence rates comparable to those in current published literature. We report perineural invasion as a significant predictor of recurrence and that 96% of total recurrence occurred within 2 years. This is in contrast to current UK guidelines (75% at 2 years, 95% at 5 years), thus suggesting that shorter length of hospital follow-up may be reasonable.

Keywords: Local recurrence; Lymph node metastases; Recurrence rate; SCC; Squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymph Nodes / surgery
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasm Staging*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology