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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 135916, 4 pages
Clinical Study

Visualization and Treatment of Subclinical Actinic Keratoses with Topical Imiquimod 5% Cream: An Observational Study

Department of Dermatology, Medical University Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 89, 8036 Graz, Austria

Received 4 February 2014; Revised 19 March 2014; Accepted 31 March 2014; Published 11 May 2014

Academic Editor: Tadamichi Shimizu

Copyright © 2014 Daisy Kopera and Helmut Kerl. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Imiquimod 5% is licensed for the treatment of external genital warts, superficial basal cell carcinoma, and actinic keratosis (AK) and is being used experimentally in various other dermato-oncological conditions. Objective. This observational study shall show that nonmelanoma skin cancer can be detected at its earliest subclinical stage by its reaction with imiquimod and can be cleared by finishing the course of treatment. Material and Methods. In this single arm trial 15 patients with chronically sun-exposed skin who had no clinical evidence of AK were treated with 5% imiquimod cream on the face or scalp for 4 weeks three times per week. Results. During treatment, all patients developed multiple areas with mild to moderate inflammatory skin reactions, such as erythema, induration, and scaling. Biopsies obtained from 12 patients prior to treatment revealed no malignancies. However, in cases with more pronounced inflammation during treatment, targeted biopsies indicated very early malignant alterations. Conclusion. Topical imiquimod treatment of chronically sun-exposed skin without overt clinical signs of AK is able to detect subclinical actinic keratoses (SAK) and to completely clear the lesions, even before they can be clinically diagnosed as AK. In such patients, imiquimod might be able to prevent the evolution of SCC.