Today, Dr Conal Perrett, a leading skin expert with his own private dermatology clinic London, presents his team’s findings after trialling a combined treatment for superficial basal cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer.
He is speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco, USA. Dr Perrett will describe the study in detail to some of the world’s leading experts in treating skin diseases.
Find out more about the American Academy of Dermatology [link: https://www.aad.org/for-the-public]
Combining two successful treatments
Dr Perrett’s work involved testing two treatments that are usually used separately to see if they worked better when given close together.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
A patient with a basal cell carcinoma is given a drug that is activated only in the presence of a bright light. The drug is preferentially taken up by the cancer cells and is then activated by a high intensity light directed accurately at the site of the cancer.
Activation of the drug just in that region of the skin kills the cells and destroys the skin tumour.
Results in patients treated only with PDT are good: the skin cancer in 90% of patients disappears within three months. Less than a quarter (22%) find that the cancer comes back and requires more treatment within two years.
Imiquimod cream (Aldara®)
Imiquimod cream is applied directly to the basal cell carcinoma. Its active ingredient is described as an immunomodulator. It acts on the immune system, stimulating the body’s own defences to destroy the cancer cells.
Its easy to apply and results are excellent. Around 80% of patients report that their basal cell carcinoma disappears within three months and only 20% have a recurrence within two years.
Results from The Devonshire Clinic
Dr Perrett’s latest study performed in a small number of patients treated using both PDT and imiquimod demonstrates even better results.
PDT was given first, with two treatments one week apart. Two weeks after the second PDT session, they were given imiquimod cream (5%) to apply every day for four weeks.
By three months, the basal cell carcinoma had completely disappeared in 94% of patients, which is better than the resolution rates seen with either treatment alone.
The study is still ongoing but by 12 months after the first PDT treatment session, only one patient had experienced a recurrence of their skin cancer.
Dr Perrett says: “This pilot study shows the potential benefit of combining two established treatments for skin cancer, namely photodynamic therapy (PDT) and imiquimod (Aldara®). Our results suggest that they may be more effective when used together than individually. We now need to perform a larger study to examine this further.”
About basal cell carcinoma
This form of skin cancer is very common, affecting millions of people worldwide each year. It is caused by exposure to sun in most cases.
Although basal cell carcinomas rarely spread through the skin or to other sites of the body, it can have a devastating effect on your quality of life. Tumours on the face or other visible parts of the skin can become very obvious, particularly if they grow large or ulcerate. Because they can invade into surrounding tissues and cause significant destruction and morbidity, prompt diagnosis and treatment is important
The Devonshire Clinic offers a complete skin cancer screening service with mole check on an annual basis for private patients.
To find out more or book an appointment contact our private dermatology clinic London.