Basal Cell Cancer – Metastasis

December 30th, 2010

Metastasis of Basal Cell Cancers is extremely rare and is almost never encountered in my The Woodlands dermatology and Conroe dermatology offices.  The estimated rate of metastasis is .0028% to .55% of all Basal Cell Cancers.  This is the lowest metastasic rate of all cancers in the human body, which is why Basal Cell Cancer is the “best” skin cancer.  Basal Cell Cancers have difficulty metastasizing since the basal tumor cells require a supporting stroma (structural foundation) to survive.  Typically, a Basal Cell Cancer must be neglected for many years and become very large before it metastasizes.  The majority of cases of Basal Cell Cancer metastasis are those that arise on the head and neck.  Men are twice as likely to have metastasis of Basal Cell Cancers as women.  The lymph nodes are the most common sites of metastasis followed by the lung, bone, skin and liver.  The route of metastasis is either through the lymphatics or hematogenous (blood stream).  Histologically, Basal Cell Cancers with perineural invasion are at increased risk of metastasis.  Although Basal Cell Cancers have an excellent prognosis if detected and treated early, metastatic Basal Cell Cancer is usually fatal with less than 10% of patients surviving past 5 years once metastasis occurs.