Is there just one lesion? the need for whole body skin examination in patients presenting with non-melanocytic skin cancer

Patricia Jane Terrill, Sian Fairbanks, Michael Bailey

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In patients presenting with non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) the frequency of concurrently presenting tumours is poorly documented. Whole body skin examination is recommended but in a recent survey of Australian General Practitioners and skin cancer clinics doctors it was infrequently performed. The aim of this study was to examine the incidence of concurrent skin cancer at initial presentation and therefore to examine the need for whole body skin examination for NMSC presentations. Method: One hundred consecutive patients with a referral diagnosis indicative of NMSC were examined. Data was analysed as to the referring doctor's diagnosis, whole body skin examination findings and histology of excised lesions. Epidemiological data was obtained by patient questionnaire. Results: One hundred patients, 41 males and 59 females, with a mean age of 70 years (range 39-91 years) underwent whole body skin examination. Sixty-seven per cent of patients were found to have additional lesions requiring treatment, 46% skin cancers (30 patients basal cell carcinomas, five squamous cell carcinomas, seven basal and squamous cell carcinomas, two lentigo maligna, two adenexal tumours) and 21% solar keratoses. Thirty-four of the additional lesions detected were in areas covered by clothing. Sixty-eight patients had a past history of skin cancer excision. Conclusions: In the Australian patient population, the need for whole body skin examination is essential to avoid missing concurrent lesions. Ongoing surveillance is also essential as these patients have a high risk of developing future NMSC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-712
Number of pages6
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


  • Diagnosis
  • Epidemiology
  • Skin neoplasms
  • Surgery

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