• optical coherence tomography;
  • histology;
  • palisading;
  • non-melanoma skin cancer


Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is rarely fatal but is now the most common malignancy occurring in white populations, accounting for 70% of the cost of managing skin cancer. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has the potential to improve diagnostic accuracy and help delineate pre-surgical margins in NMSC. Its widespread clinical acceptance awaits the accumulation of evidence from studies of direct histological comparisons.


In this study, seventy-eight subjects presenting with skin lesions, including 28 NMSCs, were imaged using the VivoSight® OCT scanner and a biopsy taken. Haemotoxylin and eosin stained histology sections were compared with the OCT images.


The depth of superficial basal cell carcinoma (BCC) lesions (<1 mm) can be measured accurately using OCT. A low-strength OCT signal at the periphery of the cell nests seen in superficial and nodular BCC is identified as corresponding to cellular palisading. A weak inverse linear correlation (r2 = 0.3) is found between the optical attenuation coefficient measured on OCT and the nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio (N/C) of cells determined from histology.


OCT has clinical value in providing accurate dimensional measurement of superficial BCC and in identifying the presence of peripheral palisading in nodular BCC.