Mohs Surgery Is the Treatment of Choice for Recurrent (Previously Treated) Basal Cell Carcinoma

Abstract. We reviewed all studies (since 1945) reporting recurrence rates for treatment of recurrent (previously treated) basal cell carcinomas (BCC) using surgical excision, radiotherapy, cryotherapy, curettage and electrodesiccation, and Mohs micrographic surgery. The 5-year recurrence rate for Mohs micrographic surgery is 5.6%. The recurrence rate for non-Mohs modalities of 19.9% is nearly four times higher. Individual recurrence rates for the non-Mohs modalities are 17.4% for surgical excision, 40.0% for curettage and electrodesiccation, and 9.8% for radiation therapy. There are no studies reporting 5-year data for cryotherapy. However, the recurrence rate is 13.0% for cryotherapy when the follow-up period is less than five years. The data support the following conclusions: (1) Mohs surgery is the treatment of choice for recurrent BCC; (2) if the patient is not a surgical candidate and the lesion is small, radiation therapy is an alternative that offers a better chance for cure than the other non-Mohs modalities; and (3) curettage and electrodesiccation should not be used to treat recurrent basal cell carcinoma.

Dan E. Rowe, M.D.
Raymond J. Carroll, Ph.D.
Calvin L. Day, Jr., M.D.

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