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Topical Ascorbic Acid Solution for Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Case Study

By: Vanessa A. Carter, BS
Posted: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Carmine Pernice, MD, of Azienda Unità Sanitaria Locale IRCCS di Reggio Emilia, Italy, and colleagues presented reportedly the first known case of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma that responded completely to topical ascorbate in Clinical Case Reports. These findings demonstrate that ascorbic acid may eliminate the need for surgery or reduce the area for resection, suggesting its future use may improve current therapeutic strategies.

A 77-year-old man presented with a growing tumor outside his right ear, ear pain, and occasional minor bleeding of the neoplasm. The tumor was a 2-cm nodular lesion with an inclination to penetrate both antihelix branches; there was no involvement of the scaphoid fossa. Biopsy revealed infiltration of the superficial dermis by well-differentiated proliferative verrucous squamous cells, indicative of squamous cell carcinoma.

Due to a lack of information available for ascorbic acid in this context, the solution was created spontaneously as a magistral galenic formulation (to optimize its absorption). A two-phase heterogeneous solution was then obtained, keeping ascorbic acid at the limit of solubility and stabilizing the molecule.

The first therapeutic step involved applying an alcohol-free disinfectant to maintain skin permeability. The mass was then treated with a supersaturated ascorbic acid solution with a concentration similar to the limit of solubility in water. The patient was instructed to keep the topical solution applied for 4 to 12 hours a day for 30 days.

The carcinoma demonstrated a rapid reduction in size within the 30 days of treatment; no pain or adverse effects were reported. The consistency and thickness of the ear appeared to be normal, allowing the patient to undergo a wedge resection of the helix and antihelix. Although histologic examination demonstrated focal epidermal hyperplasia with hyperkeratosis and tiny scale crusts, there was no residual neoplasia during intraoperative biopsies.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.



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