Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of Topicals for Actinic Keratosis Field Therapy

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Archives of Dermatological Research


Cutaneous field cancerization in dermatology describes the anatomic region of photodamaged skin with actinic keratoses (AKs) or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) that is surrounded by cellular atypia, forming a dysplastic field. The concept of field cancerization is especially relevant in dermatology, as actinic keratoses and the surrounding dysplastic region can progress to carcinomas, necessitating the treatment of the field. Recent research has focused on field-directed therapy using topical agents. This study aims to systematically review randomized controlled trials on topical treatments for actinic keratosis field cancerization, following the PRISMA guidelines. Clinical recommendations were based on the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. We identified 20 original randomized controlled trials for topical cutaneous field therapy. 0.5% 5-Fluorouracil/salicylic acid and 0.5% 5-fluorouracil received a clinical recommendation grade of A, while diclofenac sodium received a clinical recommendation grade of B. Calcipotriol/5-fluorouracil, Imiquimod, sunscreen combination therapies, and tirbanibulin received a recommendation grade of C. This review provides a framework for clinicians when considering topical treatments for patients with field cancerization.