Treatment of Actinic Keratoses with Sequential Combination of 5-Fluorouracil and Photodynamic Therapy

March 2005 | Volume 4 | Issue 2 | Original Article | 161 | Copyright © March 2005

Dore J. Gilbert MD

Actinic keratoses (AKs) are traditionally treated with cryotherapy, curettage, and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Efudex®, ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), all of which are associated with adverse effects. Although photodynamic therapy (PDT) with topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) offers a treatment alternative, current protocols require 14 to 18 hours incubation with ALA and patients experience pain during light treatment. Fifteen patients with multiple and diffuse facial AKs applied 5-FU nightly for 5 days and underwent PDT with ALA (Levulan® Kerastick®, Dusa Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) on the sixth day. ALA was applied to their entire faces and remained in contact with the skin for 30 to 45 minutes under low-intensity visible light. After removing ALA, faces received a single pass of 560- to 1200-nm intense pulsed light (VascuLight or Lumenis One, Lumenis). At 1 month and at 1 year post-treatment, 90% of treated AKs had resolved in all but one patient. Erythema resolved 7 to 10 days after treatment. Patients with multiple diffuse AKs may benefit from the application of 5-FU for 5 days followed by ALA-PDT with intense pulsed light activation.