Five-Year Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Effectiveness of Photodynamic Therapy, Topical Imiquimod, and Topical 5-Fluorouracil in Patients with Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma

Maud H E Jansen, Klara Mosterd, Aimee H M M Arits, Marieke H Roozeboom, Anja Sommer, Brigitte A B Essers, Han P A van Pelt, Patricia J F Quaedvlieg, Peter M Steijlen, Patty J Nelemans, Nicole W J Kelleners-Smeets
Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2018, 138 (3): 527-533
For the treatment of superficial basal cell carcinoma, a prospective, noninferiority, randomized controlled multicenter trial with 601 patients showed that 5% imiquimod cream was superior and 5-fluorouracil cream not inferior to methyl aminolevulinate photodynamic therapy (MAL-PDT) at 1 and 3 years after treatment. No definite conclusion could be drawn regarding the superiority of imiquimod over 5-fluorouracil. We now present the 5-year follow-up results according to the intention-to-treat analysis. Five years after treatment, the probability of tumor-free survival was 62.7% for methyl aminolevulinate photodynamic therapy (95% confidence interval [CI] = 55.3-69.2), 80.5% for imiquimod (95% CI = 74.0-85.6), and 70.0% for 5-fluorouracil (95% CI = 62.9-76.0). The hazard ratio for treatment failure of imiquimod and 5-fluorouracil were 0.48 (95% CI = 0.32-0.71, P < 0.001) and 0.74 (95% CI = 0.53-1.05, P = 0.09), respectively, when compared with methyl aminolevulinate photodynamic therapy. Compared with 5-fluorouracil, imiquimod showed a hazard ratio of 0.65 (95% CI 0.43-0.98, P = 0.04). In conclusion, 5 years after treatment, the results of this trial show that 5% imiquimod cream is superior to both methyl aminolevulinate photodynamic therapy and 5-fluorouracil cream in terms of efficacy for superficial basal cell carcinoma. We therefore consider 5% imiquimod cream as the first choice for noninvasive treatment in most primary superficial basal cell carcinomas.

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