Comparison of 5% 5-Fluorouracil Cream and 5% Imiquimod Cream in the Management of Actinic Keratoses on the Face and Scalp

February 2007 | Volume 6 | Issue 2 | Original Article | 144 | Copyright © February 2007

Emil Tanghetti MD, Wm. Philip Werschler MD

It is timely to compare the efficacy and tolerability of 2 actinic keratosis (AK) therapies—5% 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream and imiquimod cream. Thirty-six patients with 4 or more AKs were randomly assigned to receive 5% 5-FU cream twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks or 5% imiquimod cream twice weekly for 16 weeks. Five percent 5-FU was more effective than imiquimod in exposing what were presumed to be subclinical AKs, reducing the final AK count (total AK count declined during the 24-week study by 94% vs. 66%, P<.05), achieving complete clearance (incidence of 84% vs. 24% by week 24, P<.01), and achieving clearance rapidly. Tolerability was similar except for erythema, which was initially significantly higher with 5-FU than imiquimod but resolved rapidly and was significantly lower than imiquimod by week 16. Five percent 5-FU remains the gold standard field therapy for AKs.