, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 396-405
Date: 20 Aug 2011

Malignancies Within Rhinophyma: Report of Three New Cases and Review of the Literature

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Rhinophyma, which represents the end stage of rosacea, is characterized by sebaceous hyperplasia, fibrosis follicular plugging, and telangiectasia. Although it is commonly labeled as an aesthetic problem, it may also determine airway obstruction and because of its nature to hide the growth of tumors. Due to the increasing number of reports of nonmelanoma skin types of cancer within rhinophyma, further concern about a higher incidence of malignancies in rhinophyma than in the skin of normal noses is reasonable.


We describe three male patients who developed malignancies (2 basal and 1 squamous cell carcinoma) associated with rhinophyma disease. The tumors developed over a mean of 23.3 years after primary diagnosis of rhinophyma. One case had a previous history of facial skin tumor. Surgical excision with clear margins allowed resolution in all three patients with a mean follow-up of 34.8 months.


These three new cases and the review of 43 cases reported in the literature call attention to the clinical features of carcinomas arising in the context of rhinophyma, raising further concerns about the possible association between these two entities. The need for histologic examination of all surgically removed tissue in patients with rhinophyma is highlighted. Several macroscopic changes, including ulceration, drainage, and a rapid growth pattern, should alarm the physician and should be considered as suspicious of a malignant degeneration. Unexpected clinical modifications of a preexisting long-lasting silent rhinophyma could indicate the possibility of hidden malignancy rather than a rhinophyma itself. Although evidence of an association between the two entities remains inconclusive, half of the malignancies reported in our review were incidental findings associated with rhinophyma. Thus, since rhinophyma should not be considered solely a cosmetic problem, we recommend that all specimens be reviewed by a pathologist and if malignancy is diagnosed, re-excision with clear margins should be achieved when necessary with periodic follow-up.