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Periungual Basal Cell Carcinoma: Case Report and Literature Review


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Bruce R. Nelson, MD, Dermatologic Surgery Center of Houston, 6655 Travis, Suite 840, Houston, TX 77030, or e-mail:


BACKGROUND Basal cell carcinoma, the most common malignancy in humans, rarely occurs on the nail unit and may be frequently misdiagnosed clinically.

OBJECTIVES To present a case of basal cell carcinoma of the nail unit successfully treated with the mohs technique and to review the literature regarding this unique presentation of this tumor.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Case report and review of the English literature of nail unit basal cell carcinoma.

RESULTS In addition to the currently described patient, 17 other patients with nail unit basal cell carcinaoma have been reported. The tumor occurred approximately 3 times more often on the fingers then on the toes and had a slight predilection to occur in men. Ulceration, noted in more than one-half of patients, was the most common presentation of nail unit basal cell carcinoma. Mohs micrographic surgery. Often with second intention healing, was successfully employed in 39% of patients.

CONCLUSIONS Basal cell carcinaom infrequently involves the nail unit and often presents as ulceration. Adequate biopsy of the lesion is essential in making a timely diagnosis. Mohs micrographic surgery with second intension healing is an effective treatment that may offer excellent cosmetic and functional results.