PUVA treatments increase risk of SCC

April 4, 2012

The long-term risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is significantly higher for patients with severe psoriasis who receive more than 350 psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) treatments compared with those who receive fewer than 50 treatments, a new study shows.

Cambridge, Mass. - The long-term risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is significantly higher for patients with severe psoriasis who receive more than 350 psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) treatments compared with those who receive fewer than 50 treatments, a new study shows.

Researchers led by Robert S. Stern, M.D., of Harvard Medical School, used data from 1,380 patients with severe psoriasis enrolled in a prospective cohort study who were treated with PUVA. HealthDay News reports the researchers found that, from 1975 to 2005, 25 percent of the participants developed 2,973 biopsy-proven SCCs and 24 percent developed 1,729 basal cell carcinomas (BCCs). The risk of developing one or more SCC in a year correlated strongly with the total number of PUVA treatments. The risk was considerably higher when all tumors were included, while the risks for BCC were much lower.

“Exposure to more than 350 PUVA treatments greatly increases the risk of SCC,” the authors wrote. “The risks of SCC in long-term PUVA-treated patients should be considered in determining the risk of this therapy relative to other treatments for severe psoriasis.”

The research is published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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