What is the prognosis of basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

Updated: Mar 02, 2020
  • Author: Robert S Bader, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

The prognosis for patients with BCC is excellent, with a 100% survival rate for cases that have not spread to other sites. Nevertheless, if BCC is allowed to progress, it can result in significant morbidity, and cosmetic disfigurement is not uncommon.

Typically, basal cell tumors enlarge slowly, relentlessly and tend to be locally destructive. Periorbital tumors can invade the orbit, leading to blindness, if diagnosis and treatment are delayed. BCC arising in the medial canthus tends to be deep and invasive and more difficult to manage; this type of BCC can result in perineural extension and loss of nerve function.

Although BCC is a malignant neoplasm, it rarely metastasizes. The incidence of metastatic BCC is estimated to be less than 0.1%. The most common sites of metastasis are the lymph nodes, lungs, [47] and bones. [48]

Although treatment is curative in more than 95% of cases, BCC may recur, especially in the first year, or develop in new sites. Therefore, regular skin screenings are recommended. [49]


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