Delayed Diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Upper Lip: The Possible Role of Incidental Multinucleated Foreign Body Giant Cells

Joshua P. Hays, C. Helen Malone, Will E. Tausend, Brandon Goodwin, Richard Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Herpes simplex and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) can have similar clinical presentations due to overlapping lesional morphology. We describe the unusual case of a BCC masquerading as herpes labialis due to a possible false-positive Tzanck smear. The confounding diagnosis led to a failed trial of valacyclovir and subsequent loss of the patient for 1 year before the lesion was biopsied and diagnosed as a BCC. This case report highlights the importance of careful inspection of herpetic lesions and that further investigation should be pursued if the etiology is uncertain or if the treatment is not yielding the expected results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-54
Number of pages5
JournalCase Reports in Dermatology
StateAccepted/In press - Jun 16 2017



  • Acyclovir
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Herpes
  • Herpes simplex
  • Tzanck smear
  • Valacyclovir

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

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