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May 1992

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers and Infection With the Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco (Drs Lobo, Chu, Grekin, and Berger); and the Department of Dermatology, San Francisco General Hospital (Dr Berger).

Arch Dermatol. 1992;128(5):623-627. doi:10.1001/archderm.1992.01680150053003

• Background and Design.—  Forty-eight human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients with nonmelanoma skin cancers seen during a four-year period were evaluated in a retrospective, case-control study. Patients were followed up after therapy and recurrence rates were determined.

Results.—  One hundred and sixteen nonmelanoma skin cancers were identified, 101 of which were basal cell carcinomas (87%), mostly superficial multicentric (67%) of the trunk (62%). There were 15 low-grade squamous cell carcinomas, most commonly of the head and neck. Half of the patients had multiple cancers. Compared with age-matched controls, the patients with skin cancer more commonly had blue/hazel eyes (89% vs 66%; odds ratio [OR] 4.1; confidence interval [CI], 1.25 to 13.44; P =.033), blond hair (42% vs 13%; OR = 4.53; CI, 1.40 to 13.74, P =.003), a family history of skin cancer (45% vs 5%; OR = 11.88; CI, 2.85 to 49.57; P =.00), and a history of regular sunbathing (92% vs 48%; OR = 11.24; CI, 3.17 to 39.83; P =.00). The number of cancers or the presence of squamous cell carcinoma did not correlate with the degree of immunosuppression. The recurrence rate for basal cell carcinomas following standard treatment methods (mostly curettage and electrodesiccation and excision) was 5.4% for those tumors followed up for longer than 12 months. Three of the 15 squamous cell carcinomas recurred, all following curettage and electrodesiccation.

Conclusion.—  Nonmelanoma skin cancers are a not uncommon cutaneous finding in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients. The major risk factors for developing skin cancer in association with human immunodeficiency virus disease seem to be the same as in the normal population—fair skin, a positive family history, and sun exposure. Standard treatment methods seem to be associated with acceptable cure rates, except for squamous cell carcinomas, which had a high (20%) recurrence rate following curettage and electrodesiccation.(Arch Dermatol. 1992;128:623-627)

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