Topical Treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma and Actinic Keratosis in the United States

Isabella J. Tan, Gaurav N. Pathak, Frederick H. Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Skin cancer is an overarching label used to classify a variety of cutaneous malignancies. Surgical excision procedures are the commonly used treatments for these lesions; however, the choice to perform operative intervention may be influenced by other factors. Established research and literature suggest that topical treatments limit the need for surgical intervention and its commonly associated adverse effects, including infection and scarring. In addition, the growing indications for the usage of topical therapies in BCC treatment, as well as their increased availability and therapeutic options, allow for their greater applicability in the dermatology clinic. Certain topical therapies have been highlighted in research, especially those targeting basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and actinic keratosis (AK). There is also a clear correlation between cost and treatment outcomes, considering BCC’s ever-growing prevalence and the proportion of excised lesions being reported as malignant. This review will discuss BCC and AK lesion criteria that result in the most successful outcomes using topical treatments, then highlight the various topical treatment options, and finally address their clinical significance moving forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3927
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • actinic keratosis
  • AK
  • basal cell carcinoma
  • BCC
  • BCC treatment
  • tirbanibulin ointment
  • topical fluorouracil
  • topical imiquimod


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