Molecular Pathogenesis of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 146)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most frequent cancer among the white population, representing 75% of all skin cancers [1]. The incidence of BCC cases is increasing, probably because of changes of leisure activities and migration to regions with higher solar radiation. BCCs rarely metastasize (<0.1%), and mortality rates are low; however, some tumors grow aggressively and may cause extensive tissue damage. Aggressive growth of BCC correlates with histological subtypes. Nodular and superficial BCC, representing 60% and 25% of all BCC, respectively, are usually considered less aggressive than morpheaform, infiltrative, micronodular, and metatypic BCC, which are associated with a higher rate of local recurrences [2, 3]. Several risk factors for the development of BCC have been described, which include physical characteristics, exposures to environmental carcinogens, immunosuppression, and genetic predisposition. Other genetic changes, acquired subsequently and affecting cell proliferation and apoptosis, may also be involved in tumorigenesis. In the following sections, some recently identified molecular mechanisms are described that are involved in BCC development and which potentially represent targets of new pharmacologic treatment modalities.


Hair Follicle Basal Cell Carcinoma Sonic Hedgehog Hedgehog Signalling Xeroderma Pigmentosum 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • T Meyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Medical Microbiology Virology and HygieneUniversity Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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