Metastatic basal cell carcinoma: Prognosis dependent on anatomic site and spread of disease

Margaret McCusker, Nicole Basset-Seguin, Reinhard Dummer, Karl Lewis, Dirk Schadendorf, Aleksandar Sekulic, Jeannie Hou, Lisa Wang, Huibin Yue, Axel Hauschild

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Purpose This review provides a description of the epidemiology and survival outcomes for cases with metastatic basal cell carcinoma (mBCC) based on published reports (1981-2011). Methods A literature search (MEDLINE via PubMed) was conducted for mBCC case reports published in English: 1981-2011. There were 172 cases that met the following criteria: primary BCC located on skin, metastasis confirmed by pathology and metastasis not resulting from direct tumour spread. From these, 100 mBCC cases with explicit information on follow-up time were selected for analysis. Survival analysis was conducted using Kaplan-Meier methods. Results Among 100 mBCC cases selected for analysis, including one case with Gorlin syndrome, 50% had regional metastases (RM) and 50% had distant metastases (DM). Cases with DM were younger at mBCC diagnosis (mean age, 58.0 versus 66.3 years for RM; P = 0.0013). Among 93 (of 100) cases with treatment information for metastatic disease, more DM cases received chemotherapy (36.2% versus 6.5% for RM), but more RM cases underwent surgery (87.0% versus 40.4% for DM). Among all 100 cases, median survival after mBCC diagnosis was 54 months (95% confidence interval (CI), 24-72), with shorter survival in DM (24 months; 95% CI, 12-35) versus RM cases (87 months; 95% CI, 63-not evaluable). Conclusion Cases with RM and DM mBCC may have different clinical courses and outcomes. Based on published reports, DM cases were younger at mBCC diagnosis, with shorter median survival than RM cases. This study provides a historical context for emerging mBCC treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-783
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Carcinoma, basal cell/secondary
  • Epidemiology
  • Neoplasm metastasis
  • Skin neoplasms/pathology
  • Treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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