Periocular basal cell carcinoma: demographic, clinical, histological and immunohistochemical evaluation of a series of 39 cases

Vol. 60 No. 1, 2019


Claudia Florida Costea, Mihaela Dana Turliuc, Anca Sava, Gabriela Dimitriu, Gabriela Florenta Dumitrescu, Cristina Danca, Andrei Ionut Cucu, Camelia Margareta Bogdanici, Irina Iuliana Costache, Catalin Mihai Buzduga, Manuela Ciocoiu, Daniela Maria Tanase, Raluca Alina Dragomir, Alexandru Carauleanu

Background: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most frequent malignant epithelial tumor of the periocular area. The clinical and histological classification of periocular basal cell carcinoma (pBCC) is essential in order to establish the risk of recurrence and to compare the results of the treatment. Until now, there is no unitary histological classification of pBCC. Aim: The aim of this study is to identify the demographic, clinical and histopathological characteristics of adult patients with pBCC, in order to obtain useful data for comparison in other investigations and to identify the histological origin of this eyelid tumor, as there are only hypothesis on this issue. Materials and Methods: A descriptive retrospective study was conducted on a series of 39 consecutive patients over the age of 20, who were surgically treated for pBCC in the 2nd Ophthalmology Clinic of the Prof. Dr. Nicolae Oblu Emergency Clinical Hospital from Iasi, Romania, over an 11-year period (July 2007-February 2018). The analyzed data were the following: date of resection, patient age at resection, gender, tumor location, histological subtype, and immunohistochemical (IHC) expression patterns of anti-cytokeratin (CK) antibodies (anti-CK AE1/AE3, anti-CK5/6, anti-CK7, anti-CK17, anti-CK19, anti-CK20) and anti-epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) antibody. Results: A total of 39 histopathologically diagnosed cases of pBCC were evaluated. The mean age at resection was of 66 years (range: 26-87 years). As for gender, 17 (43.6%) were male patients, with a mean age of 64.84 years (range: 26-78 years) and 22 (56.4%) were female patients, with a mean age of 66.68 years (range: 46-87 years). The pBCC occurred on the right side in 18 (46.2%) cases and on the left in 21 (53.8%) cases. Of all removed specimens, 24 (61.53%) involved the lower eyelid, seven (17.94%) the medial canthus, five (12.82%) the upper eyelid, and three (7.62%) lacked the specification of the site. The most common histological subtype was nodular, accounting for 26 (66.7%) cases. Adenoid BCC was identified in four (10.3%) cases, and morpheaform in one (2.6%) case. Squamous differentiation (basosquamous subtype) was identified in eight (20.5%) cases. The IHC profile of pBCC included: strong immunopositivity for CK AE1/AE3, and CK17 all histological subtypes, and CK5/6 positivity only in squamous differentiation areas. No immunopositivity was identified for CK19, CK20, and EMA IHC staining. Conclusions: Our retrospective study indicates that most of pBCCs developed particularly in elderly female patients and tumors were located in the lower eyelid with a left side and lower eyelid preferences. Most of our pBCC cases were histologically classified as nodular subtype, and morpheaform and basosquamous form affected mostly the lower eyelid. pBCC IHC profile showed a strong immunopositivity for CK17, thus suggesting that the origin of this cancer is in the follicular germinative cells. We can conclude that our results showed a demographic, clinical, histological, and IHC profile which seems to be representative for Central and Eastern European countries, maybe due to the same genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

Corresponding author: Mihaela Dana Turliuc, Associate Professor, MD, PhD; e-mail:; Anca Sava, Professor, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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