Non-melanoma skin cancer of the head and neck: the aid of reflectance confocal microscopy for the accurate diagnosis and management.

Ferrari B, Salgarelli AC, Mandel VD, Bellini P, Reggiani C, Farnetani F, Pellacani G, Magnoni C, G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2016 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print].



Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) represents the most common cutaneous neoplasms of the head and neck. In recent years, novel non-invasive diagnostic tool have been developed, and among these we have the reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM), that offers the evaluation of the skin at real time with cellular resolution. Numerous studies have identified the main confocal features of skin tumours, demonstrating the good correlation of these features with certain dermatoscopic patterns and histologic findings.


The aim of this analysis was to provide new insight into the role of RCM in the diagnosis and management of NMSC of the head and neck. Data comes from the most recent literature, taking into account previous essential reported information in this field. The study eligibility criteria were: studies providing update information, focusing on RCM findings in NMSC, without restrictions for age, sex, ethnicity. A search concerning the role of dermoscopy and RCM in the diagnosis of NMSC was performed on Medline. Duplicated studies, single case report and papers with language other than English were excluded from this study.


RCM clues were analysed for NMSC in association with clinical, dermoscopic and histopathologic findings. Moreover, some new findings have been described and possible applications for NMSC of the head and neck have been discussed.


RCM allows tissue imaging in-vivo contributing to a more accurate diagnosis of NMSC of the head and neck, sparing time for the patient and costs for the public health system. RCM can also be used for selection of the biopsy site and it is helpful in defining the surgical safety margins to keep during the excision of skin cancers.

PMID: 26889726