New York, April 29 (Inditop) Imiquimod, a medicinal cream used to treat specific parts of the skin, has shown promising results in treating the deadliest form of skin cancer or melanoma, triggered by chronic exposure to sunlight, when used with surgery.
Melanoma is characterised by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells and may appear on the skin suddenly without warning or develop on an existing mole.
The study by St Louis University (SLU), looked at two cases of the most common types of melanoma of the head and neck, known as lentigo maligna (LM). LM is the earliest stage of Melanoma.
“As we’re seeing melanoma in younger and younger people, in their 30s and 40s, there is a longer window for the cancer to return and a greater desire to avoid disfiguring surgery,” said Scott Fosko, lead study investigator.
This early version LM precedes the more invasive form, lentigo maligna melanoma (LMM). The progression of LM to LMM typically occurs after 10 to 15 years.
Though surgical removal of LM is most often used to treat the non-invasive form of the cancer, it can have high local recurrence rates.
In two patients who had both LM and LMM, investigators used Imiquimod in conjunction with surgery.
In both patients, surgery was first done to remove the area of known invasive disease, followed by the cream to the outer area of LM.
This approach was chosen with patients who did not want extensive surgery due to the large size of the melanoma on their scalp and face.
These cases, along with other recent studies, suggest that imiquimod may help to reduce the area needing surgery, manage the LM and hopefully minimise its recurrence.
Researchers hope that topical treatments like imiquimod may be used to lower the seriousness and the cost of treating the disease, as well as limit scars from surgery, and, most importantly, improve patient care, said a SLU release.
These findings were published in Dermatologic Surgery.