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- Incidence and Risk Factors
- Clinical Presentation
- Diagnostic Evaluation
- Treatment of Childhood Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) of the Skin
- Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation for Childhood Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin
- Special Considerations for the Treatment of Children With Cancer
- Changes to This Summary (12 / 23 / 2019)
- About This PDQ Summary
Childhood Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI]
This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
Incidence and Risk Factors
Nonmelanoma (basal cell carcinoma [BCC] and squamous cell carcinoma [SCC]) skin cancers are very rare in children and adolescents. In a report of 7,814 cases of primary skin cancers in individuals younger than 30 years who were recorded by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database from 2000 to 2008, carcinomas accounted for 0.008% of all cases.
In one series of 28 patients, approximately one-half of patients had predisposing conditions such as nevoid BCC syndrome (Gorlin syndrome), and one-half of patients were exposed to iatrogenic conditions such as prolonged immunosuppression or radiation. Gorlin syndrome is a rare disorder with a predisposition to the development of early-onset neoplasms, including BCC, ovarian fibroma, and desmoplastic medulloblastoma.[3,4,5,6]
- Senerchia AA, Ribeiro KB, Rodriguez-Galindo C: Trends in incidence of primary cutaneous malignancies in children, adolescents, and young adults: a population-based study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 61 (2): 211-6, 2014.
- Khosravi H, Schmidt B, Huang JT: Characteristics and outcomes of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in children and young adults. J Am Acad Dermatol 73 (5): 785-90, 2015.
- Gorlin RJ: Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome. Dermatol Clin 13 (1): 113-25, 1995.
- Kimonis VE, Goldstein AM, Pastakia B, et al.: Clinical manifestations in 105 persons with nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome. Am J Med Genet 69 (3): 299-308, 1997.
- Amlashi SF, Riffaud L, Brassier G, et al.: Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome: relation with desmoplastic medulloblastoma in infancy. A population-based study and review of the literature. Cancer 98 (3): 618-24, 2003.
- Veenstra-Knol HE, Scheewe JH, van der Vlist GJ, et al.: Early recognition of basal cell naevus syndrome. Eur J Pediatr 164 (3): 126-30, 2005.
Basal cell carcinomas generally appear as raised lumps or ulcerated lesions, usually in areas with previous sun exposure. These tumors may be multiple and exacerbated by radiation therapy. Squamous cell carcinomas are usually reddened lesions with varying degrees of scaling or crusting, and they have an appearance similar to eczema, infections, trauma, or psoriasis.
- Efron PA, Chen MK, Glavin FL, et al.: Pediatric basal cell carcinoma: case reports and literature review. J Pediatr Surg 43 (12): 2277-80, 2008.
- Griffin JR, Cohen PR, Tschen JA, et al.: Basal cell carcinoma in childhood: case report and literature review. J Am Acad Dermatol 57 (5 Suppl): S97-102, 2007.
Biopsy or excision is necessary to determine the diagnosis of any skin cancer. Diagnosis is necessary for decisions regarding additional treatment. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are generally curable with surgery alone and further diagnostic workup is not indicated.
Treatment of Childhood Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) of the Skin
Treatment options for childhood BCC and SCC of the skin include the following:
Treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer is predominantly surgical, either surgical excision or Mohs micrographic surgery.
Most BCCs have activation of the hedgehog pathway, generally resulting from mutations in PTCH1. Vismodegib (GDC-0449), a hedgehog pathway inhibitor, has been approved for the treatment of adult patients with metastatic or advanced BCC.[3,4,5] This drug also reduces the tumor burden in patients with basal cell nevus syndrome.
(Refer to the PDQ summary on adult Skin Cancer Treatment for more information.)
- Khosravi H, Schmidt B, Huang JT: Characteristics and outcomes of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in children and young adults. J Am Acad Dermatol 73 (5): 785-90, 2015.
- Caro I, Low JA: The role of the hedgehog signaling pathway in the development of basal cell carcinoma and opportunities for treatment. Clin Cancer Res 16 (13): 3335-9, 2010.
- Von Hoff DD, LoRusso PM, Rudin CM, et al.: Inhibition of the hedgehog pathway in advanced basal-cell carcinoma. N Engl J Med 361 (12): 1164-72, 2009.
- Sekulic A, Migden MR, Oro AE, et al.: Efficacy and safety of vismodegib in advanced basal-cell carcinoma. N Engl J Med 366 (23): 2171-9, 2012.
- Basset-Séguin N, Hauschild A, Kunstfeld R, et al.: Vismodegib in patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma: Primary analysis of STEVIE, an international, open-label trial. Eur J Cancer 86: 334-348, 2017.
- Tang JY, Mackay-Wiggan JM, Aszterbaum M, et al.: Inhibiting the hedgehog pathway in patients with the basal-cell nevus syndrome. N Engl J Med 366 (23): 2180-8, 2012.
Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation for Childhood Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin
Information about National Cancer Institute (NCI)–supported clinical trials can be found on the NCI website. For information about clinical trials sponsored by other organizations, refer to the ClinicalTrials.gov website.
The following is an example of a national and/or institutional clinical trial that is currently being conducted:
- APEC1621 (NCT03155620) (Pediatric MATCH: Targeted Therapy Directed by Genetic Testing in Treating Pediatric Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Advanced Solid Tumors, Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas, or Histiocytic Disorders): NCI-COG Pediatric Molecular Analysis for Therapeutic Choice (MATCH), referred to as Pediatric MATCH, will match targeted agents with specific molecular changes identified using a next-generation sequencing targeted assay of more than 4,000 different mutations across more than 160 genes in refractory and recurrent solid tumors. Children and adolescents aged 1 to 21 years are eligible for the trial.
Tumor tissue from progressive or recurrent disease must be available for molecular characterization. Patients with tumors that have molecular variants addressed by treatment arms included in the trial will be offered treatment on Pediatric MATCH. Additional information can be obtained on the NCI website and ClinicalTrials.gov website.
Special Considerations for the Treatment of Children With Cancer
Cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975. Referral to medical centers with multidisciplinary teams of cancer specialists experienced in treating cancers that occur in childhood and adolescence should be considered for children and adolescents with cancer. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the following health care professionals and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life:
- Primary care physicians.
- Pediatric surgeons.
- Radiation oncologists.
- Pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists.
- Rehabilitation specialists.
- Pediatric nurse specialists.
- Social workers.
- Child-life professionals.
(Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.)
Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with cancer have been outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics. At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate in these trials is offered to most patients and their families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapy for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI website.
Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer. Between 1975 and 2010, childhood cancer mortality decreased by more than 50%. Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close monitoring because cancer therapy side effects may persist or develop months or years after treatment. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.)
Childhood cancer is a rare disease, with about 15,000 cases diagnosed annually in the United States in individuals younger than 20 years. The U.S. Rare Diseases Act of 2002 defines a rare disease as one that affects populations smaller than 200,000 persons. Therefore, all pediatric cancers are considered rare.
The designation of a rare tumor is not uniform among pediatric and adult groups. Adult rare cancers are defined as those with an annual incidence of fewer than six cases per 100,000 people, and they are estimated to account for up to 24% of all cancers diagnosed in the European Union and about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States.[5,6] Also, the designation of a pediatric rare tumor is not uniform among international groups, as follows:
- The Italian cooperative project on rare pediatric tumors (Tumori Rari in Eta Pediatrica [TREP]) defines a pediatric rare tumor as one with an incidence of less than two cases per 1 million population per year and is not included in other clinical trials.
- The Children's Oncology Group has opted to define rare pediatric cancers as those listed in the International Classification of Childhood Cancer subgroup XI, which includes thyroid cancer, melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers, and multiple types of carcinomas (e.g., adrenocortical carcinoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and most adult-type carcinomas such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer, etc.). These diagnoses account for about 4% of cancers diagnosed in children aged 0 to 14 years, compared with about 20% of cancers diagnosed in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.
Most cancers within subgroup XI are either melanomas or thyroid cancer, with the remaining subgroup XI cancer types accounting for only 1.3% of cancers in children aged 0 to 14 years and 5.3% of cancers in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.
These rare cancers are extremely challenging to study because of the low incidence of patients with any individual diagnosis, the predominance of rare cancers in the adolescent population, and the lack of clinical trials for adolescents with rare cancers.
Information about these tumors may also be found in sources relevant to adults with cancer such as the PDQ summary on adult Skin Cancer Treatment.
- Smith MA, Seibel NL, Altekruse SF, et al.: Outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer: challenges for the twenty-first century. J Clin Oncol 28 (15): 2625-34, 2010.
- Corrigan JJ, Feig SA; American Academy of Pediatrics: Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers. Pediatrics 113 (6): 1833-5, 2004.
- Smith MA, Altekruse SF, Adamson PC, et al.: Declining childhood and adolescent cancer mortality. Cancer 120 (16): 2497-506, 2014.
- Ward E, DeSantis C, Robbins A, et al.: Childhood and adolescent cancer statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin 64 (2): 83-103, 2014 Mar-Apr.
- Gatta G, Capocaccia R, Botta L, et al.: Burden and centralised treatment in Europe of rare tumours: results of RARECAREnet-a population-based study. Lancet Oncol 18 (8): 1022-1039, 2017.
- DeSantis CE, Kramer JL, Jemal A: The burden of rare cancers in the United States. CA Cancer J Clin 67 (4): 261-272, 2017.
- Ferrari A, Bisogno G, De Salvo GL, et al.: The challenge of very rare tumours in childhood: the Italian TREP project. Eur J Cancer 43 (4): 654-9, 2007.
- Pappo AS, Krailo M, Chen Z, et al.: Infrequent tumor initiative of the Children's Oncology Group: initial lessons learned and their impact on future plans. J Clin Oncol 28 (33): 5011-6, 2010.
- Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al., eds.: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2012. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, 2015. Also available online. Last accessed October 05, 2020.
Changes to This Summary (12 / 23 / 2019)
The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.
This is a new summary.
This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ® - NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.
About This PDQ Summary
Purpose of This Summary
This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of pediatric basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.
Reviewers and Updates
This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:
- be discussed at a meeting,
- be cited with text, or
- replace or update an existing article that is already cited.
Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.
The lead reviewers for Childhood Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin Treatment are:
- Denise Adams, MD (Children's Hospital Boston)
- Karen J. Marcus, MD, FACR (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children's Hospital)
- Paul A. Meyers, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center)
- Thomas A. Olson, MD (Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - Egleston Campus)
- Alberto S. Pappo, MD (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)
- Arthur Kim Ritchey, MD (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC)
- Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)
- Stephen J. Shochat, MD (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)
Any comments or questions about the summary content should be submitted to Cancer.gov through the NCI website's Email Us. Do not contact the individual Board Members with questions or comments about the summaries. Board members will not respond to individual inquiries.
Levels of Evidence
Some of the reference citations in this summary are accompanied by a level-of-evidence designation. These designations are intended to help readers assess the strength of the evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. The PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board uses a formal evidence ranking system in developing its level-of-evidence designations.
Permission to Use This Summary
PDQ is a registered trademark. Although the content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text, it cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless it is presented in its entirety and is regularly updated. However, an author would be permitted to write a sentence such as "NCI's PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks succinctly: [include excerpt from the summary]."
The preferred citation for this PDQ summary is:
PDQ® Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Childhood Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/skin/hp/child-skin-treatment-pdq. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.
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Based on the strength of the available evidence, treatment options may be described as either "standard" or "under clinical evaluation." These classifications should not be used as a basis for insurance reimbursement determinations. More information on insurance coverage is available on Cancer.gov on the Managing Cancer Care page.
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Last Revised: 2019-12-23
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