To determine long-term tumor recurrence rates after treatment of primary nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Data are currently insufficient to permit evidence-based choices among treatments for NMSC.
Prospective study of an inception cohort observed for a median of 6.6 years after treatment.
Dermatology clinic at a Veterans Affairs hospital. Care was provided by dermatology resident or attending physicians.
Consecutive sample of all 495 patients with 616 primary NMSCs diagnosed in 1999 and 2000 and treated with electrodessication and curettage (ED&C), excision, or Mohs surgery. Follow-up was available for 608 tumors (99%).
Main Outcome Measure
Tumor recurrence, determined by medical record review, with validation by clinical examination.
The mean age at diagnosis was 71 years; 97% were men. Overall, 127 tumors were treated with ED&C (20.9%); 309 with excision (50.8%); and 172 with Mohs surgery (28.3%). Over the course of the study, 21 tumors recurred (3.5% [95% confidence interval (CI), 2.2%-5.2%]): 2 after ED&C (1.6% [95% CI, 0.2%-5.6%]), 13 after excision (4.2% [95% CI, 2.2%-7.1%]), and 6 after Mohs surgery (3.5% [95% CI, 1.3%-7.4%]).
Recurrence of primary NMSC after treatment occurred in less than 5% of tumors. The recurrence rate after ED&C was lower than expected, and the recurrence rate after Mohs surgery was higher than expected. These findings may be related to the risk for recurrence in the treatment groups.