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Superficial x-ray in the treatment of basal and squamous cell carcinomas: a viable option in select patients.

BACKGROUND: Effective nonsurgical modalities are limited in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

OBJECTIVE: We sought to evaluate the efficacy and viability of superficial x-ray therapy in the treatment of BCC and SCC in an outpatient setting.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis was performed on 1715 histologically confirmed primary cutaneous BCC and SCC treated with superficial x-ray therapy at Dermatology Associates of Tallahassee in Florida between 2000 and 2010.

RESULTS: Of the 1715 tumors reviewed during this period, 712 were histologically proven BCC (631 nodular and 81 superficial), 994 were SCC (861 SCC in situ and 133 invasive SCC), and 9 displayed distinct features of both BCC and SCC in the same biopsy specimen. Kaplan-Meier estimates (with 95% confidence intervals) of cumulative recurrence rates of all tumors at 2 and 5 years were 1.9% (1%-2.7%) and 5.0% (3.2%-6.7%), respectively; of BCC at 2 and 5 years were 2% (0.8%-3.3%) and 4.2% (1.9%-6.4%), respectively; and of all SCC at 2 and 5 years were 1.8% (0.8%-2.8%) and 5.8% (2.9%-8.7%), respectively. Tumors on male patients and those with a diameter greater than 2 cm were associated with a statistically significant increase in recurrence likelihood.

LIMITATIONS: This study represents only patients treated in 1 dermatology office in North Florida and may not be representative of the general patient population.

CONCLUSIONS: Superficial x-ray therapy remains a viable nonsurgical option for the treatment of primary BCC and SCC in patients where surgical intervention is declined, unadvisable, or potentially associated with significant cosmetic or functional limitations.

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