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Summary

Background

Applicability of dermoscopy in evaluation of outcome and monitoring of superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC) after nonablative therapies has not been sufficiently assessed.

Objectives

Certain dermoscopic criteria, namely pigmented structures, ulceration and arborizing vessels, have been suggested to predict the presence of residual disease [residual disease-associated dermoscopic criteria (RDADC)]. We aimed to assess this hypothesis.

Patients and methods

Lesions exhibiting RDADC 3 months after treatment were biopsied and in the case of histopathological confirmation were excised. Lesions characterized by white/red structureless areas, superficial fine telangiectasias, or lacking any dermoscopic criterion, were monitored for 12 months.

Results

At the 3-month evaluation, one or more of the RDADC were detected in 25/98 (25·5%) sBCCs, in which histology confirmed tumour persistence. In 45 (61·6%) of the 73 remaining lesions, dermoscopy showed white/red structureless areas and/or superficial fine telangiectasias. Twenty-eight lacked any dermoscopic criterion of sBCC. The two latter groups entered follow-up. In total, disease recurred in 13 (17·8%) of the 73 lesions.

Conclusions

RDADC accurately predict residual disease. Absence of dermoscopic criteria of sBCC safely predicts complete histopathological clearance. Detection of white/red structureless areas and/or superficial fine telangiectasias warrants close monitoring to recognize early recurrence.