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Abstract

Background  Most published series of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are based on Caucasian populations. Very little is known about the characteristics of incompletely excised BCCs in Asians.

Objectives  This study examines the characteristics of BCCs in Asian residents in Singapore, and compares incompletely with completely excised tumors after conventional surgical excision.

Patients and methods  A retrospective study was conducted using the case records of patients who had a primary BCC excised at the National Skin Centre between 1991 and 1995.

Results  A total of 185 histologically confirmed BCCs were recorded in 166 patients (male to female ratio, 0.95; mean age, 70.9 years). The highest proportion (27.1%) was in the 81–90-year age group. Compared with census data, a significantly higher proportion of patients with BCCs were Chinese (P < 0.001). The tumors averaged 12.0 mm in diameter and the majority (84.3%) were located on the head and neck. In 28 lesions (15.1%), the tumors were incompletely excised, with those on the nose and nasolabial folds being most frequent. Incompletely excised BCCs were more likely than completely excised lesions to be located on the mid-face and trunk (P = 0.003), but there was no significant correlation with tumor size, tumor duration, or patient age, race, and gender. The overall recurrence rate was 1.6% over a mean follow-up time of 74 months.

Conclusions  BCCs are more common amongst Chinese in Singapore and occur chiefly in the elderly. Conventional surgical excision with margin control achieves a satisfactory tumor clearance rate of 84.9%. Incomplete excision is associated with tumor location on the mid-face and trunk rather than tumor size or duration.