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Cryosurgery Plus 5-FU vs Monotherapy in Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: Canadian Study Findings

By: Kayci Reyer
Posted: Thursday, February 1, 2024

According to findings presented in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, the noninvasive combination treatment of cryosurgery and topical fluorouracil (5-FU) may be effective in patients with the non-melanoma skin cancers Bowen’s disease and superficial basal cell carcinoma. Non-melanoma skin cancer incidence rates are on the rise in Canada despite already being the country’s most commonly diagnosed cancer, the investigators noted.

“Our results show that cryosurgery and 5-FU combination treatment with no recovery time between modalities is an effective option when treating superficial basal cell carcinoma and Bowen’s disease and may be more accessible to clinicians while providing fewer adverse effects for patients,” concluded Samina Nazarali, MD, of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Dusan Sajic, MD, PhD, of McMaster University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

The single-center, retrospective chart review included 310 biopsy-confirmed cases of Bowen’s disease and 176 biopsy-confirmed cases of superficial basal cell carcinoma. Included instances were treated with cryotherapy, 5-FU monotherapy, or cryotherapy plus 5-FU. Overall, combination treatment was administered to 229 patients with Bowen’s disease and 61 patients with superficial basal cell carcinoma.

At a follow-up of 6 months from initial treatment, clearance rates among patients receiving combination treatment were 90% in those with Bowen’s disease and 86.9% in those with superficial basal cell carcinoma. A total of 81 patients with Bowen’s disease and 115 patients with superficial basal cell carcinoma were treated with cryotherapy alone, resulting in clearance rates of 81.5% and 76.5%, respectively. Clearance rates were not available for patients treated with 5-FU monotherapy because of inadequate in-person follow-up.

“Further studies with longer follow-up intervals, comparisons with other noninvasive treatments, and evidence of histologic cure are required,” the authors concluded.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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