A randomized trial of the off-label use of imiquimod, 5%, cream with vs without tazarotene, 0.1%, gel for the treatment of lentigo maligna, followed by conservative staged excisions

Mark A Hyde, Michael L Hadley, Payam Tristani-Firouzi, David Goldgar, Glen M Bowen
Archives of Dermatology 2012, 148 (5): 592-6

OBJECTIVE: To determine if the complete response rates of lentigo maligna (LM) to imiquimod, 5%, cream can be improved by the addition of a topical retinoid.

DESIGN: Prospective randomized study of patients treated with imiquimod alone vs imiquimod plus a topical retinoid, followed by conservative staged excisions.

SETTING: Mohs surgical clinic in an academic institution.

PATIENTS: Ninety patients with biopsy-confirmed LM.

INTERVENTIONS: Ninety patients with 91 LMs were randomized into 2 groups. One group received imiquimod, 5%, cream 5 d/wk for 3 months, while the other group also received tazarotene, 0.1%, gel 2 d/wk for 3 months. Following topical therapy, all patients underwent staged excisions and frozen section analysis with Melan-A immunostaining to confirm negative margins.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: The presence or absence of residual LM at the time of staged excision.

RESULTS: Forty-six patients with 47 LMs were randomized to receive monotherapy: 42 of 47 LMs reached the intended treatment duration, with 27 complete responses (64%). Forty-four patients with 44 LMs were randomized to receive combined therapy: 37 of 44 LMs reached the intended treatment duration, with 29 complete responses (78%). This difference did not reach statistical significance (P=.17). There have been no recurrences to date, with a mean follow-up period of 42 months.

CONCLUSIONS: Among patients who received topical imiquimod with vs without tazarotene, 22% (8 of 37) of lesions vs 36% (15 of 42) of lesions showed residual LM on staged excisions. Pretreating LM with imiquimod, 5%, cream may decrease surgical defect sizes; however, total reliance on topical imiquimod as an alternative to surgery may put the patient at increased risk of a local recurrence.

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