Histologic inflammation of frozen sections of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) observed during Mohs micrographic surgery was modestly predictive of adjacent tumor presence, according to an article published online ahead of print in JAMA Dermatology.1

In this study, researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, sought to quantify the correlation between inflammation and the location and presence of NMSC in frozen sections of tissue.  The tissue segments examined corresponded to 12 wedges, such as the hours on a clock.

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Investigators reviewed 3148 cases of NMSC and found that 60 cases showed inflammation in histologic frozen sections from an excision specimen that was followed by tumor in the subsequent excision specimen (65% basal cell carcinomas; 21% squamous cell carcinomas).

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Results showed that if inflammation was present in 7 of 12 segments of a sample, there was a positive correlation of the presence of a nearby tumor. Correlation coefficients ranged from 0.196 to 0.384 (P < .05). The likelihood that there was no tumor when there was no inflammation in the tissue sample was 91%, with segment-specific probability values ranging from 82% to 96%.

Researchers concluded that while inflammation was modestly predictive of tumor presence, lack of inflammation was more strongly predictive of tumor absence.


  1. Alam M, Khan M, Veledar E, et al. Correlation of inflammation in frozen sections with site of nonmelanoma skin cancer [published online ahead of print November 18, 2015]. JAMA Dermatol. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3649.