The purpose of our study was to determine the level of accuracy provided by clinical diagnosis in head and neck cutaneous malignancy as confirmed by histopathologic examination of the specimen in a skin cancer referral center. Positive predictive value was selected as a reliable measure of diagnostic accuracy. We also aimed to audit our surgical outcomes and record and present the completeness of excision, the rates of recurrence and metastasis, and the reconstructive method.Study Design.
We reviewed the electronic charts of 867 consecutive patients with skin tumors and calculated the positive and negative predictive values of clinical diagnosis.Results.
The positive predictive value was 91% for basal cell carcinoma and 78.8% for squamous cell carcinoma. Of the 178 histologically diagnosed squamous cell carcinomas, 15 were metastatic.Conclusions.
In a skin cancer referral center, expert clinical diagnosis may safely overcome the need for preoperative biopsy. Relying on clinical diagnosis to formalize a treatment plan for head and neck nonmelanoma skin cancer is safe and efficient. This is more reliable in cases of basal cell carcinoma compared with suspected squamous cell carcinomas.