Topical methyl aminolaevulinate photodynamic therapy in patients with basal cell carcinoma prone to complications and poor cosmetic outcome with conventional treatment

M. Horn, P. Wolf, H. C. Wulf, T. Warloe, C. Fritsch, L. E. Rhodes, R. Kaufmann, M. De Rie, F. J. Legat, I. M. Stender, A. M. Solér, A. M. Wennberg, G. A E Wong, O. Larkö

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Conventional treatment of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) causes morbidity and/or disfigurement in some patients because of the location (e.g. mid-face) and size of the lesion. Objectives: Following reports that such difficult-to-treat BCC lesions have been treated successfully with topical methyl aminolaevulinate (MAL) photodynamic therapy (PDT), a multicentre study was performed to determine the response of such BCC to MAL-PDT. Methods: An open, uncontrolled, prospective, multicentre study was conducted comprising patients with superficial and/or nodular BCC who were at risk of complications, poor cosmetic outcome, disfigurement and/or recurrence using conventional therapy. Patients were given one or two cycles within 3 months of topical MAL-PDT. each consisting of two treatments 1 week apart. Tumour response was assessed clinically at 3 months after the last PDT, with histological confirmation of all lesions in clinical remission. The cosmetic outcome was rated. Patients with a BCC in remission will be followed up for 5 years for recurrence, of which the 24-month follow-up is reported here. Ninety-four patients with 123 lesions were enrolled and treated with MAL-PDT at nine European primary care and referral university hospitals. An independent blinded study review board (SRB) retrospectively excluded nine patients and a total of 15 lesions from the efficacy analysis, for not having a difficult-to-treat BCC according to the protocol. Results: The lesion remission rate at 3 months was 92% (45 of 49) for superficial BCC, 87% (45 of 52) for nodular BCC, and 57% (four of seven) for mixed BCC, as assessed by clinical examination, and 85% (40 of 47), 75% (38 of 51), and 43% (three of seven), respectively, as assessed by histological examination and verified by the SRB. At 24 months after treatment, the overall lesion recurrence rate was 18% (12 of 66). The cosmetic outcome was graded as excellent or good by the investigators in 76% of the cases after 3 months follow-up, rising to 85% at 12 months follow-up, and 94% at 24 months follow-up. Conclusions: Topical MAL-PDT is effective in treating BCC at risk of complications and poor cosmetic outcome using conventional therapy. MAL-PDT preserves the skin and shows favourable cosmetic results.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1242-1249
    Number of pages7
    JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


    • Basal cell carcinoma
    • Cosmetic results
    • Methyl aminolaevulinate
    • Photodynamic therapy


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