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Journal of Skin Cancer
Volume 2011, Article ID 380371, 7 pages
Review Article

Treatment of Facial Basal Cell Carcinoma: A Review

Department of Dermatology, Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull and Hull York Medical School (HYMS), Hull HU2 3JZ, UK

Received 13 December 2010; Revised 23 January 2011; Accepted 27 January 2011

Academic Editor: Arash Kimyai-Asadi

Copyright © 2011 Vanessa Smith and Shernaz Walton. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are locally destructive malignancies of the skin. They are the most common type of cancer in the western world. The lifetime incidence may be up to 39%. UV exposure is the most common risk factor. The majority of these tumours occur on the head and neck. Despite BCCs being relatively indolent the high incidence means that their treatment now contributes a significant and increasing workload for the health service. A good understanding of the options available is important. Management decisions may be influenced by various factors including the patient's age and comorbidities and the lesion subtype and location. Due to the importance of a good cosmetic and curative outcome for facial BCCs treatment decisions may differ significantly to those that would be made for BCCs arising elsewhere. There is little good randomized controlled data available comparing treatment modalities. Although traditionally standard excision has been the treatment of choice various other options are available including: Mohs micrographic surgery, curettage and cautery, cryosurgery, radiotherapy, topical imiquimod, photodynamic therapy and topical 5-fluorouracil. We discuss and review the literature and evidence base for the treatment options that are currently available for facial BCCs.