MONDAY, March 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A short course of calcipotriol plus 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) treatment for actinic keratosis (AK) is associated with induction of robust T cell immunity and reduced development of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) within three years, according to a study published in the March 21 issue of JCI Insight.

Abby R. Rosenberg, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues compared a four-day course of topical calcipotriol plus 5-FU combination with Vaseline plus 5-FU (control) for treatment of AK in a randomized double-blind trial. At one, two, and three years after the trial, SCC and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) incidences were assessed.

The researchers found that calcipotriol plus 5-FU-induced tissue-resident memory T (Trm) cell formation in face and scalp skin was correlated with significantly higher erythema scores versus control treatment (P < 0.01). In the test cohort, more participants remained SCC-free during the follow-up period (P = 0.0765); within three years, significantly fewer developed SCC on the treated face and scalp (7 versus 28 percent; hazard ratio, 0.215; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.048 to 0.972; P = 0.032). Compared with controls, significantly more epidermal Trm cells persisted in the calcipotriol plus 5-FU-treated face and scalp skin (P = 0.0028). No significant between-treatment-group difference was seen in BCC incidence.

“These remarkable findings substantiate the use of immunotherapeutic agents with minimal side effects and high efficacy against precancerous lesions in order to reduce the risk of cancer development and recurrence,” the authors write.

Two authors are coinventors on a patent filed for use of calcipotriol plus 5-FU for the treatment of precancerous skin lesions.

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