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Facial peels may prevent skin cancer

Article-Facial peels may prevent skin cancer

National report — A recent study suggests that cosmetic chemical peels may result in a lower rate of the incidence of some types of skin cancer.

The study, conducted on patients in the dermatology and otolaryngology clinics of the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, Calif., and published in the Archives of Dermatology, compared three treatments for actinic keratosis (AK) — a 30 percent trichloroacetic acid peel, carbon dioxide laser resurfacing and a topical cream of 5 percent fluorouracil. Thirty-four patients, all with previous nonmelanoma skin cancer or severe photodamage and at high-risk for new primary skin cancers, were evaluated at three-month intervals for two years, then followed routinely for an additional three years.

Less cancer

At three months, all three patient groups saw reductions in the number of AK lesions.

However, though the risk of cancer was also reduced in all three treatment groups, patients receiving chemical peels experienced a "markedly lower" 40-fold rate reduction in non-melanoma skin cancer than the control group, according to reports in ScienceDaily.

The chemical peel patients also reported less discomfort, more rapid healing, and fewer complaints than the other two study groups.

Study investigators acknowledged the small sample size and the potential limitation of having five patients who had declined treatment serve as the control arm.

Still, the authors believe that the results warrant additional studies in a larger patient population to validate the initial findings of the efficacy of these treatments in skin cancer prevention.

For more information:

Facial Resurfacing for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Prophylaxis. Arch Dermatol. 2006;142:976-982.

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