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January 1965

Basal Cell Epithelioma: A Controlled Study of Associated Factors

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology, New York University Schools of Medicine and the Skin and Cancer Unit of University Hospital (Drs. Gellin and Kopf) and from the Statistical Research Section, American Cancer Society, Inc. (Mr. Garfinkel).

Arch Dermatol. 1965;91(1):38-45. doi:10.1001/archderm.1965.01600070044004

Despite the oft-cited characterization of the skin-cancer-prone individual, a review of the literature indicates that this image has been primarily based on general clinical observation or on inadequately conducted studies not subjected to statistical scrutiny. Therefore, an analysis was made of certain factors associated with patients who developed skin cancer (basal cell epithelioma, or BCE) compared with a control series of patients free of skin tumors. The entire BCE group consisted of 861 consecutive histologically proven cases; the control group consisted of 1938 dermatologic clinic patients without skin tumors.

An estimate of the incidence rate of BCE of the entire Clinic population indicated that males had rates 25% greater than females.

In order to permit more justifiable comparisons, all Caucasians aged 40 to 79 years in the BCE and control groups were studied for eye color, hair color, complexion, ability to tan, outdoor exposure, and personal and family history of skin cancer. It was shown that there was a statistically significant tendency for the BCE group to have light eyes and light hair, to have a fair complexion, to sunburn easily, and to spend more hours per day outdoors than the control group. However, fewer than 6% of all cases in the BCE group had all five features (contrasted with only 0.6% of the controls).

Of the BCE cases 7.4% had prior skin cancers compared with 0.1% of the controls.

There was no significant difference in the BCE and control groups in regard to family history of skin cancer.