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Fractional laser Tx may prevent keratinocyte carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma--Photo by: James Heilman, MD via Wikimedia Commons

New research by a Massachusetts General Hospital-led team indicates that simple laser treatments to the skin may help to prevent the development of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

The findings were published in Dermatologic Surgery.

Investigators led by Mathew Avram, MD, JD, worked to see if non-ablative fractional laser (NAFL) treatment could prevent skin damage that leads to the development of these common keratinocyte cancers. Dr. Avram is the director of the Mass General Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center in Boston.

To explore this question, the researchers studied patients who had been successfully treated for facial keratinocyte carcinoma in the past. According to a press release, these patients have a 35% risk of experiencing a subsequent keratinocyte carcinoma within three years and a 50% risk within five years.

In the study, 43 patients received NAFL therapy and 52 served as controls.

Investigators found a 20.9% rate of subsequent keratinocyte carcinoma development in the NAFL-treated patients over an average follow-up period of more than six years. The rate was 40.4% in the control patients over the same period.

When controlling for age, gender, and skin type, control patients were 2.65 times more likely to develop a new facial keratinocyte carcinoma than NAFL-treated patients.

Also, among patients who developed a facial keratinocyte carcinoma, the time to development was significantly longer in patients treated with NAFL compared with untreated patients.

“These findings suggest that NAFL treatment may have an important role in protecting against subsequent keratinocyte carcinomas,” said Dr. Avram in the release.

“While the mechanism of NAFL’s protective effect is not completely understood, it is suspected that NAFL treatment reduces the overall burden of photodamaged keratinocytes and may promote a wound healing response, which gives healthy skin cells a selective advantage.”

Dr. Avram said that more studies are warranted to critically assess the role of NAFL in skin cancer prevention, to reveal the duration of its protective effects and to determine optimal treatment parameters.


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