Researchers in England claim that the presence of more than one basal cell cancer at a time increases the risk of cancer recurrence. Researchers in England evaluated over 900 patients with basal cell cancer to determine whether patients that had clustering, two or more basal cell cancers present at the same time, were associated with a higher rate of recurrence.

Basal cell cancer is the most common form of skin cancer. Fortunately, it is a slow growing cancer that very rarely spreads throughout the body. Basal cell cancer has a tendency to develop in persons with a light complexion that have had significant exposure to sunlight. The overall cure rate averages between 85% and 95%, depending on the extent of the disease and the type of treatment utilized. However, researchers have recently discovered an association between the presence of more than one basal cell cancer at the same time in a person with an increased risk of recurrence (return after treatment) of the cancer at other sites in the body.

Results from this study showed that individuals who had clustering were more likely to have recurrences of basal cell cancer than individuals who had only a single cancer present. The recurrences were not simple failures of treatment as they frequently occurred at sites distant from the original cancers. In addition, it was found that clustering occurred in older patients more often than younger patients.

From these findings, researchers suggest that patients identified with clustering of basal cell cancer should receive thorough and routine follow-ups for the early detection of any recurrences. Persons with basal cell cancer may wish to speak to their physician about follow up schedules or about their risk of developing a recurrence. (Cancer, Vol 89, No 5, pp 970-976, 2000)

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