Histopathologic assessment of depth of follicular invasion of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in situ (SCCis): Implications for treatment approach

Sean R. Christensen, Jennifer M. McNiff, Alicia J. Cool, Sumaira Z. Aasi, Allison M. Hanlon, David J. Leffell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background Squamous cell carcinoma in situ (SCCis) has been reported to involve the hair follicle epithelium. Deep follicular invasion is often cited as a cause of treatment failure. Objective We sought to define the frequency and the depth of hair follicle invasion by SCCis. Methods The study included both a retrospective review of intraoperative pathology specimens from 42 SCCis cases treated with Mohs micrographic surgery and a prospective evaluation of serially sectioned SCCis tissue from 12 additional patients. Pathology specimens were analyzed for follicular invasion of SCCis. Results SCCis invasion of the superficial hair follicle infundibulum was observed in 61.3% to 87.5% of cases in the 2 cohorts, whereas invasion of the isthmus and lower follicle was observed in only 8.3% to 12.5% of cases. In most tumors the depth of follicular invasion was comparable with the thickness of the surrounding epidermis. The maximum observed depth of follicular invasion was 0.82 mm. Limitations The study was performed on a limited number of cases referred for surgery at a single institution. Conclusions Although SCCis invasion of the upper hair follicle infundibulum is common, deep invasion below the level of the surrounding epidermis is rare. This may have implications for optimal therapy of this condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-362
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bowen disease
  • Mohs micrographic surgery
  • adnexal structure
  • cutaneous
  • depth
  • hair follicle
  • histology
  • pathology
  • sebaceous gland
  • squamous cell carcinoma in situ


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