Clinical Dermatology Review

: 2019  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 130--135

Retrospective analysis of demographic, clinical, and histopathological parameters in patients with basal cell carcinoma

Aparna Palit1, P Ram Sushruth2, Keshavmurthy A Adya2, Ajit B Janagond2, Niranjan S Deshmukh2, Arun C Inamadar2,  
1 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Shri B. M. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Center, BLDE (Deemed to be University), Vijayapur, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Arun C Inamadar
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Shri B. M. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Center, BLDE (Deemed to be University), Vijayapur - 586 103, Karnataka


Background: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a common malignancy among light-skin races. Chronic solar exposure is the most important precipitating factor. In India, BCC is the second in order among the nonmelanoma skin cancers, the first being squamous cell carcinoma. Actual incidence and prevalence of this tumor in various geographical regions of India remain undefined. Aim: The aim is to study the demographic, clinical, and histopathological parameters of the patients suffering from BCC residing in a rural area of northern Karnataka. Materials and Methods: Retrospective data analysis of the patients suffering from BCC was performed from the records of dermatology outpatients' department of a tertiary healthcare center in north Karnataka. Results: A total of 41 cases of BCC were examined during 12 years. The duration of the lesions varied from 6 months to 20 years. Female patients outnumbered males in a ratio of 3.36:1. Majority of the patients were homemakers and agricultural workers. Nodular, noduloulcerative, and pigmented BCC were the most common clinical pattern and 9 (28.1%) cases of morpheaform BCC were recorded. Four patients had genodermatoses; three were xeroderma pigmentosum and one case of nevoid BCC syndrome. These patients had multiple lesions of BCC. Classical histopathological features were recorded in all cases. One specimen showed evidence of metatypical epithelioma. Conclusion: Most of the patients in this series belonged to the rural part of North Karnataka, predominantly homemakers and agricultural workers. Females were more commonly affected, attributable to the intermittent type of solar exposure. Morpheaform BCC accounted for less than a quarter of cases, and multiple BCCs associated with genodermatoses were seen in four cases.

How to cite this article:
Palit A, Sushruth P R, Adya KA, Janagond AB, Deshmukh NS, Inamadar AC. Retrospective analysis of demographic, clinical, and histopathological parameters in patients with basal cell carcinoma.Clin Dermatol Rev 2019;3:130-135

How to cite this URL:
Palit A, Sushruth P R, Adya KA, Janagond AB, Deshmukh NS, Inamadar AC. Retrospective analysis of demographic, clinical, and histopathological parameters in patients with basal cell carcinoma. Clin Dermatol Rev [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Sep 21 ];3:130-135
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Full Text


Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) worldwide.[1] It is common among the Caucasian and other light-skinned races.[2] Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the most important precipitating factor in the pathogenesis of BCC. Intermittent and intense sunlight exposure since childhood and through adolescence may determine the adult risk of BCC. However, such exposure is common among light-skinned individuals residing in temperate climate where recreational sunexposure in summer season is common. In tropical countries like India sunexposure is more or less continuous throughout the year which may be occupational or related to daily activities as well.

In recent years, the incidence of BCC has been increasing worldwide; Europe, United States of America, and the highest in Australia.[1] Currently, even an increasing trend has been observed in Asian countries.[1]

Classical skin lesion of BCC is an asymptomatic papule or nodule with pearly, rolled border, located over the head and face [Figure 1].[3] Various morphological patterns have been described, of which the nodular type is the most common (50%–80%), followed by superficial type (15%).[3],[4] Recently, newer clinical variants such as “red dot BCC” and “candle wax BCC” have been described.[5],[6] Although photo-exposed body parts are the most common sites of involvement, covered body parts (thigh, leg, and female genitalia), and oral mucosa are known to get involved.[7]{Figure 1}

Among NMSC squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is more common in India,[8] followed by BCC. Primary cutaneous malignant melanoma is rare occurrence in Indian skin. Few series of patients with BCC have been reported from various parts of India.[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13] We, hereby, present the demographic, clinical, and histopathological data of 41 Indian patients with Fitzpatrick IV and V skin types, suffering from BCC.

 Materials and Methods

Retrospective data were analyzed from the records of the patients with BCC examined in the dermatology outpatient department of a tertiary healthcare center located in Karnataka, India. The data included for the analysis was recorded over 12 years (2006–2017).

The institution is located in a district town of northern Karnataka. The region is arid and sunny with usual day time temperature varying from 30°C to 45°C throughout the seasons. The population catered by the institution is mostly from the agricultural background who works in the field throughout the year. The females in this region are mostly involved in household works but often involved in agricultural work as well.

Demographic parameters of each patient, duration of disease, any precipitating factor, and details of the tumor were recorded. Skin biopsy was done in all the patients for confirmation of clinical diagnosis. Dermoscopy was performed in 10 patients. All patients were managed surgically.


Forty one patients with BCC were examined during 12 years. Among them, 4 patients had genodermatoses; two girls and one young adult male had xerodema pigmentosum (XP) [Figure 2], one adult male presented with nevoid BCC syndrome [Figure 3]. Females were more common sufferers than males (female: male = 3.36:1). Various demographic details of the patients are presented in [Table 1]. The most frequent affected age group was 61–70 years (n = 11), followed by 51–60 years (n = 10). Four patients were in the age group of 21–30 years of whom two cases were non-syndromic BCC. One patient was >80 years of age. Two girls with XP were <10 years. The duration of skin lesions varied between 6 months and 20 years at presentation. Only two college students presented to the hospital within 6 months of the occurrence of the lesion on the face. No year-wise rising trend in the occurrence of BCC was observed over 12 years.{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Table 1}

Face was the most common site involved (n = 35). Thirty seven patients had single lesion and multiple lesions were present in the four cases of genodermatoses. The most common clinical diagnosis was nodular BCC. All nodular BCC had a pigmented appearance; some were ulcerated at presentation or developed ulceration subsequently. Large morpheaform lesions were found in 9 cases (21.9%), all of which showed raised, pigmented border, indistinct at some areas. Some of these lesions showed surface ulceration and crusting. One giant morpheaform lesion had involvement of inner canthus of the eye. Central atrophy and depigmentation were seen in two cases. Giant BCC (lesion >5 cm)[14] were seen in five cases. Clinical characteristics of the patients are described in [Table 2] and [Table 3]. Various morphological patterns of BCC are presented in [Figure 4] and [Figure 5].{Table 2}{Table 3}{Figure 4}{Figure 5}

Histopathologically, nests and cords of basaloid cells with peripheral palisading was the consistent feature. Retraction artifacts were present in 25 and melanin deposit (within nests and stroma) was present in 20 specimens. Strands of basaloid cells extending to the dense fibrous stroma were seen in 10 cases, nine of which were from clinically morpheaform lesions. Stromal lymho-monocytic infiltrates were seen in 18 cases. Two of the specimens showed mitotic figures. Keratin pearls were seen in five cases. One specimen showed dysplastic cells around the nests of basal cells and was diagnosed with metatypical epithelioma. Various histopathological features of BCC are presented in [Figure 6]. Dermoscopic features of few cases of BCC are presented in [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9].{Figure 6}{Figure 7}{Figure 8}{Figure 9}


The data presented here is from the dermatology outpatient department of a single center in north Karnataka. Over a span of 12 years, 37 non-syndromic cases of BCC with solitary lesions and 4 syndromic cases with multiple lesions were recorded. A series of BCC patients have been reported from Mangaluru (south Karnataka); it was a retrospective clinico-pathological analysis of 100 cases of BCC (2006–2014).[8] The total number of cases reported over 9 years was 2.5 times higher than this series.[8] Probably, the specimen collections in this report were cumulative from both dermatology and other surgical departments of the institution, as the authors were pathologists. Another series of 60 patents with all cutaneous malignancies (Davangere, Central Karnataka) reported by pathologists (2005–2009) had recorded five cases of BCC.[9]

In a series of 85 patients with eyelid malignancies, taken up for reconstructive surgery by plastic surgeons in Maharashtra, central India (1996–2009), BCC was the most commonly recorded eyelid malignancy (n = 41, 48.2%).[10] Kumar et al. have reported a series of patients with BCC from the department of Dermatology of a tertiary care center in Punjab, north India (2011–2013).[11] There were 36 confirmed cases of BCC during the study period of 3 years.[11] A year-wise rising trend in the occurrence of BCC was observed.[11] Female preponderance was recorded among the patients with BCC, as in the present series. On comparison with our data, the occurrence of BCC was higher in this study. Similar was the finding in the study by Malhotra et al. from New Delhi, North India, who documented 34 cases of BCC (2007–2009) during 3 years.[12] This may presumably be at least partially attributable to the higher altitude resulting in more intense UV rays exposure in north Indian population. In a study conducted by the otorhinolaryngologists, among the Sikkimese population with NMSC (n = 37) in the head-and-neck region, SCC was the most common malignancy encountered, followed by BCC (n = 13, 35.1%).[13]

BCC is locally invasive and distant metastasis is rare (<0.5%).[2],[4] However, there are reports of metastatic BCC in Indian literature.[15] People with BCC are at risk of other primary cutaneous malignancies, such as SCC and melanoma.[2] Moore and Bennett have found that the Asian population tend to develop fewer BCCs during their lifetime as compared to the Caucasians even with comparable sunexposure.[16] They also found a higher age of onset and no gender predilection among Asian patients with BCC.[16] Although Caucasians are at risk of developing more than one subsequent BCCs within 1 year,[3] such risks were not found among Asians.[16]

Dermoscopy is a modern tool which can be used for pre-biopsy evaluation of BCC. Although there are certain dermoscopic findings suggestive of the diagnosis of BCC, it must always be confirmed by histopathological examination. Presurgical assessment of histopathological aggressiveness of BCC lesions can also be estimated by dermoscopy. Kim et al. have demonstrated that histopathological aggressiveness of BCCs may be indicated by the dermoscopic findings of multiple blue-gray globules, arborizing vessels, and concentric structures, whereas the frequent presence of large blue-gray ovoid nests indicates nonaggressive nature of the tumor.[17] Dermoscopy is also useful to detect the extension of the tumor beyond clinically visible margin, helping in wide excision during surgery.[18] Dermoscopic findings of all the 41 patients were not available in this series of patients because of nonavailability of the facility before the year 2017.

Here, a series of rural south Indian patients with BCC has been reported. Female patients, mostly homemakers, were the common sufferers of BCC. This supports the role of intermittent solar UV rays exposure in the pathogenesis of BCC in Indians. Nodular, nodulo-ulcerative, and pigmented lesions were the most common variants. Morpheaform BCCs were seen in nine cases and five cases had giant lesions. Multiple lesions of BCCs were seen in four patients with genodermatoses. Very long duration of up to 20 years was observed before the patients sought for medical help, even though face is the most important body part of cosmetic concern. This may be attributed to the asymptomatic nature of the BCC lesions during the initial phase. Illiteracy, ignorance about health related issues, and other pressing factors in daily lives prohibiting the rural population to seek prompt health care may also be the responsible factors, at least partially. In general, south Indian population has a darker skin shade as compared to north Indians, but two cases of early-onset nonsyndromic BCC were recorded in this series, indicating that skin color may not be a protective factor always. Although the incidence of BCC is on the rise worldwide, we did not observe this trend over 12 years. Retrospective data collection is the limitation of this study. However, it is a single centre dermatologists' experience on dark complexioned rural Indian patients suffering from BCC.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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